Travel Portland reports assess damage to urban tourism during pandemic

PORTLAND, Oregon. (KOIN) — As Rose City assesses the economic impact of the pandemic, the city has lost $5 billion in travel-related spending if trends had continued prior to the pandemic.

In 2019, Travel Portland reports that tourism-related spending was pegged at $5.6 billion in 2019 but has fallen to $2.4 billion. In a sign of a potential recovery, travel-related spending totaled $3.7 billion in 2021.

City center hotels typically generate more than two-thirds of hotel revenue in the city, but hotel bookings have been cut in half since 2019 and it could be years before the city is fully booked again.

A measure of tourism activity is Travel Portland’s share of lodging tax, which dropped from $6.9 million in 2019 to $1.7 million in 2021.

Travel Portland is hoping the return of business travel will help the recovery.

“The central city relies on business travel, conventions, and its recovery has been lower than that of leisure, so those stats are much smaller.” This was stated by CEO and President of Travel Portland Jeff Miller.

Miller presented the situation to the city council on Wednesday. Commissioner Mingus Mapps pointed to 40,000 jobs in the city supported by the tourism industry.

“This has been a huge blow to our economy, as well as BIPOC small businesses and communities, which are at the forefront of our city’s hospitality industry,” Mapps explained.

Travel Portland believes a full recovery could take as early as 2024 at the earliest, although Miller says that’s far from the full estimate, telling the council, “We’re insuring our bets, we’ve been burned before.”

Miller hopes for the mood of potential visitors. The agency is conducting research on how potential visitors feel about a trip to Portland. 44 percent of respondents said vacationing in Portland sounded “exciting,” up from 32 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. Similarly, 37 percent of people said a vacation in the city was “unappealing”, a number that dropped to 24 percent.

“When we asked potential visitors what comes to mind when they think of Portland, too often it was murder and homelessness. The damage done by COVID and the damage done to our reputation has destroyed our local hospitality industry,” Mapps said.

But there is some optimism about demand for hotels in the city center and in the Lloyd area. After a sharp drop in demand in 2020, there has been a significant increase in 2021.

Travel Portland President and CEO Geoff Miller explained that “revenue is coming back, we are still well down from 2019 due to the lack of rooms sold, but the recovery is really happening and we are excited about it.”

So far, revenue has returned 158% per annum to…

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