In an effort to draw more tourists into Woodburn, the city's newly formed Tourism Advisory Committee is conducting a soft launch of its tourism website www.TravelWoodburn.com.
Though the website is still a work in progress, its creators aim to make it a go-to resource for Woodburn residents and visitors to learn more about the city and its attractions.
The site was created by the Tourism Advisory Committee, which was formed in June this year. The committee works with both the city of Woodburn and the Woodburn Area chamber of Commerce to market the city's tourist attractions.
The committee is largely made up of representatives from the Woodburn business community. On the committee are Hythum Ismail and Robby Truong, owners of the newly opened Metropolis Marketplace; Kayla Waldron, marketing and business director of the Woodburn Premium Outlets; Rene Willer of DataVision; Paul Iverson, current fire chief whose family owns Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm; and Carisa Rangel Gottuso of Windermere Real Estate. Also on the committee is Woodburn resident Camron Settlemier and city council member Lisa Ellsworth.
Launching a website and an active social media presence was one of the first goals of the committee. According to Jamie Johnk, the city's economic development director, the group wasted no time in getting that task accomplished. "This dynamic group of individuals already had started putting a website together by the end of the (first) meeting," Johnk said.
The group reached its goal of having the site up and running by the Aug. 21 eclipse. "This group has really taken the bull by the horns," said Stuart Rodgers, executive director of the chamber of commerce. "They've really run with this and tackled the eclipse event."
Although the website is currently under construction, the Tourism Advisory Committee plans to reach out to area businesses, tourism attractions, community groups and other entities in order to build a virtual inventory of places to eat, shop, see and experience in the Woodburn area.
"It's an inventory we're building slowy," Rodgers said. "We're finding what we've called tourism assets here locally and understanding what they are so we can help promote them."
The website fills a gap that was identified in Woodburn: a centralized place to find information on area attractions.
"One of the challenges is that there is a lot of information and brochures out there for individual things going on or for individual businesses, but there's not something on the community broadly," Johnk said.
Eventually, the city plans to hire a staff member who will take over the website and all tourism-related marketing.
Ultimately, Johnk and Rodgers said they hope the website becomes a tool to help draw more visitors into the city. The city already has tourist destinations like the Woodburn Premium Outlets — which draws more than 4 million visitors annually — along with popular agritourist businesses like Bauman's Farm and the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm. One of the goals of the website is to inform the tourists going to those attractions about what else the city has to offer.
"The tourists are here. They are at that outlet mall every day," Johnk said. "We just kind of need to get them this way," Johnk said, referring to the city's core.
And tourism, Johnk said, is great for the local economy. "With visitors comes revenue to businesses," Johnk said. "When people come to the community, they're shopping, they're eating, they're seeing things, and as they're spending money, that benefits the local economy."