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Delegates from across the state demonstrate range of offerings at trade show
05-22-2012  By: Amanda Stutt
Al Mungia, Oregon Tourism Commission;  Sue Price, Southern Oregon Travel Trade;  Kristine McConnell, Central Oregon Visitors Association; Heather Anderson, tourism manager, Travel Portland; Lisa Itel, travel trade manager, Travel Oregon; Teresa O'Neill, vice president, global sales, Travel Oregon; Meg Trendler, tourism sales manager, Travel Lane County; & Ian Tillson, Canadian account director, Travel Oregon.

A delegation from Travel Oregon, the Oregon Tourism Commission, Central Oregon Visitors Association and Travel Portland, together with supplier partners, dazzled industry professionals at a trade show and dinner reception at the Marriot Pinnacle in Vancouver on May 17.

The focus was demonstrating a holistic Oregon, as representatives from the entire state discussed each regions' unique characteristics.

Lisa Itel, travel trade manager, Travel Oregon, said “Canada is our number one - our largest international market. We come up to Vancouver twice a year. Our focus is on the Greater Vancouver B.C. market because our partners are seeing such an increase and such a demand from the clients that are visiting their areas.”

Itel also said west coasters are taking more and more coach tours, and Travel Oregon is working with parent companies in Toronto and L.A to develop and deepen relationships with agents and ethnic demographics.

“We want to bring general awareness," Itel said. "I think Oregon may sometimes be overlooked for California or Las Vegas because we are so close, but we get so many requests from Western Canada."

“We’re a great family destination and a great group destination. It’s a great drive and a great value,” she added.

Ian Tillson, Canadian account director, Travel Oregon, said the state is one of the few states to invest in Canada, realizing the importance of the Canadian market, as over 1.3 million Canadians visit the destination each year.

The drive to Oregon is reportedly a sight to behold as the state boasts 360 miles of untouched coastline. The drive from Vancouver to Portland is approximately six hours and there is also a direct service on Amtrak that takes eight hours to Union Station.

Travel Oregon has an exclusive partnership with Air Canada, offering direct service to Portland from Vancouver and Calgary, in addition to other gateways in the East.

Al Manguia, Oregon Tourism Commission; Ian Tillson, Canadian account director, Travel Oregon;  Heather Anderson, tourism manager, Travel Portland;  Lisa Itel, travel trade manager, Travel Oregon; Edna Ray, western director, Air Canada; and James Howey, regional general manager, B.C, Air Canada

Foodies and wine lovers should find Oregon a rewarding destination, as the state is on the cutting edge in the culinary scene, and has 400 wineries, most in the Willamette Valley.

Meg Trendler, tourism sales manager, Travel Lane County, said the Willamette Valley is where the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes thrive.

“That’s what Oregon is known for. In Eugene alone there are 17 wineries ranging from King Estates, the largest and most well known, to smaller and little known ones," Trendler said. "There are ones that are in a little red barn next to the vineyard. It’s a very intimate experience- very authentic. Quite often the person pouring the wine is Vintner or the winery owner himself.”

Sue Price, travel trade and PR contractor, Southern Oregon Visitors Association, said Syrahs, Zinfandels and Tempranillos thrive in the State’s warmer regions, and that wine touring is gaining popularity in Oregon.

Price also recommends taking a soft adventure tour in Crater Lake National Park.

Kristine McConnell, manager, industry relations, Central Oregon Visitors Association, hails from Bend, and said what that region lacks in wineries, they make up for in microbreweries.

“We have a really emerging microbrewery scene now. By the end of the year we will have thirteen microbreweries just in Bend, and eighteen in Central Oregon,” McConnell said.

McConnell also mentioned Bend has a distinctive artisan culture, and is home to one of the nation’s largest outdoor yoga festivals, called “Yogis Unite.”

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