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Oregon lover hopes to inspire visitors

SACCs Andy Newman loves to give travel advise to Sandy visitors


Andy Newman, member services manager at the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce and the man behind the desk for visitor information, has been giving people great ideas for their trips in Oregon for years.

He’s helped people plan trips not only in the Sandy and Mount Hood area, but in Portland, Bend, St. Helens, and up and down the coast.

His favorite piece of advice for travelers visiting Portland: “The tattooed and pierced people aren’t going to kill you, they’re probably doctors or lawyers.”

Newman enjoys promoting Oregon in general and wants people to leave here with more than a Voodoo Doughnut and the information that there’s hardly any snow on the mountain this year. He wants folks to enjoy Oregon like he does.

“Not to toot my own horn,” Newman said. “But I’ve had people come back, call and send postcards from all over the world.”

Newman worked as a tour guide for a Portland company from the summer of 2009 through 2012, but now he just does it because that’s what he enjoys. Newman said he could drive up to Mount Hood every day and never get tired of it — there’s always something new to see.

Newman takes pride in the service that he provides for tourists coming into the area, and he has a massive collection of brochures at the Chamber Office to show for it.

“I want Sandy to be more than a bathroom break on the way to Hood,” he said.

Newman frequently sends families to Meinig Park to picnic in the summer and out to Dodge Park to fish.

Unfortunately because of this winter’s lack of snow, he’s had to improvise a little. “When people tell me they want to go snowshoeing, I suggest hiking instead,” Newman said.

Ecstatic about such ventures as Organic Sandy, a local food market, Newman believes that in three to five years, Sandy could be “quite the happening spot.”

Clackamas County is working to implement a program that would make visitor information kiosks available to communities.

After the first kiosk is installed at the French Prairie rest area on Interstate 5, just south of Wilsonville, around April 2014, communities that have shown interest in these kiosks will be able to have them installed. The city of Sandy is one such community that has shown interest in finding out more.

But not everyone is excited about the change.

Newman sees major problems with this, besides the obvious one: He might lose his job eventually. One, if the kiosk is open and outside, there’s the possibility that it could be vandalized quickly. Two, Newman feels that a computer would not be able to fill his shoes. He does not want Sandy to lose the human interaction that comes with someone knowledgeable giving suggestions to visitors.

Jae Heidenreich, development lead at Clackamas County Tourism, said the kiosks are meant to help people who are accessing information in different ways, mainly from their smart phone, and may not want to be limited to traditional visitors’ center hours. “We’re growing that window of when that information is available to them,” Heidenreich said.

“I don’t want to Google my trip,” said Newman. “I’d rather talk to a human.”

Especially in the fall, Newman often tells visitors to drive out to Orient, Bluff or Lusted to see the colorful scenery of the nurseries or the eclectic houses that line the roads.

“Unless you know that’s there, you’re not going to find it,” Newman said. “A computer can’t tell you that.”

Newman said he has been trying to get in touch with Clackamas County Tourism and Cultural Affairs to plead his case, but so far has only been pushed to the side.

But he hasn’t given up hope on doing what he loves.

“If worse comes to worse, I’ll open a tourism company on my own,” he said, laughing. “Know anyone who wants to invest a couple thousand dollars?”