Lake Oswego considers creating tourism committee
Group would bring together representatives from key industries and community groups to help plan future projects
Lake Oswegos scenic parks and historic iron production sites make it a unique tourist destination, but for several years the City has lacked a specific plan to coordinate tourism activity and development.
Now the City Council is evaluating an option to fill that gap: the creation of a Tourism Advisory Committee.
Historically, the City has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce and the Clackamas County Tourism Department to develop a tourism action plan, Deputy City Manager Jordan Wheeler told the council at a recent study session. But its been seven or eight years since the last plan was adopted, and since that time, the City has increased our hotel-motel tax by two percent in order to generate some resources for tourism-related purposes and facilities.
The increased tax revenue was used to fund historic rehabilitation projects, including the 2009 restoration of the iron furnace at George Rogers Park, as well as the citys Festival of the Arts and the Lake Oswego Arts Council. But the completion of the restoration projects has freed up some of the hotel tax revenue, and state law mandates that it must be used for tourism purposes.
Were now to the point where we have some available funding for tourism projects, and the timing worked out with this task force that was convened to look at what those projects might be, Wheeler said.
At its annual goal-setting retreat in January, the council voted to create a tourism task force to plan for how best to use those extra hotel tax dollars. The group convened four times since then under the leadership of Councilors Jackie Manz and Joe Buck, both of whom joined Wheeler to present the task forces recommendations to the council.
Ultimately the task force saw an ongoing Tourism Advisory Committee as the key body that would help implement that action plan and advise the City Council on future expenditures, Wheeler said.
The task force identified nine tourism goals, the foremost of which was the creation of the advisory committee. Other goals include the creation of new tourist-friendly events, expanding destination venues in city parks and the development of new tourism information resources to highlight Lake Oswegos popular features.
Several goals also relate to accessibility, such as increased signage at venues, more bike and pedestrian pathways to link various tourism destinations and the addition of new mountain bike trails in certain city parks.
We basically did a large SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) analysis and came up with the plan you see before us, said Buck, but we definitely recognized the long-term need for
this decision-making and governance.
The proposed advisory committee would consist of nine representatives serving three-year terms, each from a different city organization or business group such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Arts Council and local hotels. The task force also included representatives from some of those groups.
This was a group effort representing different parts of the community sort of like the Arts Council, people with specific qualifications and from particular industries who have something to do with tourism, said Manz. Certainly you want someone from the hotel segment or the hospitality segment represented, because thats where the funds are drawn from.
The committee would only have two initially scheduled meetings per year, but additional meetings could be added if necessary. Wheeler predicted that the committee members would have the resources to implement some of the plans on their own, with minimal support from City staff.
At the conclusion of the study session, Mayor Kent Studebaker directed staff to draft an official resolution to create the Tourism Advisory Committee, which will appear before the council later this month.