Brad Niva is the Executive Director of Travel Southern Oregon (TSO), a regional tourism marketing organization based in Medford, which has been promoting a five county area of Southern Oregon as a travel destination for the past 32 years. Brad addressed our club on January 9, sharing some interesting statistics on tourism as well as future plans for increasing visitor traffic in the region.
TSO is one of seven regional tourism marketing organizations under the umbrella of Travel Oregon, funded primarily by a 1.8% lodging tax. TSO is governed by a board of 22 travel professionals, with an annual budget of about $400,000. Promotions are directed at increasing visitor counts in Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, Klamath and Lake Counties.
Since 2010, tourism growth in our region has grown by 15%, accounting for 11,000 jobs and visitor spending exceeding $1 billion in 2016. Ranked by visitation, the top attractions in Southern Oregon are:
U.S. Cellular Sports Park
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Hellgate Jet Boat Excursions
Rivers, Lakes, Southern Coast
In a highly competitive industry, TSO’s challenges include finding more robust funding, better training of front line personnel, managing growth to prevent over-capacity from minimizing the visitor experience, combatting the negative effects of forest fires and smoke, and extending the visitor season to spring, fall and even winter months.
TSO is undergoing a new branding campaign and has established the following focus areas to promote our region in the future:
Our National Parks
Arts, cultural and heritage attractions and activities
Develop more outdoor recreation options
Strengthen the local wine industry