PORTLAND, Ore. – April 1, 2020 – In a time when all industries are affected by the rapid spread of COVID-19 in our country, the travel and tourism industry has been hit particularly hard by global reductions in travel, hotel closures and the cancellation or postponement of meetings and conventions. Additionally, the businesses that evoke the Portland spirit of innovation, collaboration and hospitality have, in many cases, had to limit or stop operations.
In a cost-saving effort to focus all work on hospitality business support and being positioned to promote Portland as recovery begins, Travel Portland, the destination marketing and management organization for the city, has reduced staff throughout the organization by 40 percent. Additionally, remaining staff will see a reduction in salary, with higher percentages at the CEO and executive levels and lower percentages for remaining staff. Laid-off employees will receive two weeks’ severance in addition to three months of health benefits and pay-out of accrued PTO.
“These unprecedented times are unfortunately calling for unprecedented measures,” said Jeff Miller, President & CEO of Travel Portland. “As we have watched the city we love and have the honor of promoting suffer the impacts of this pandemic, we have had to reevaluate how we do our work. The work we do now, both internally and externally, will define how Portland comes out of this when recovery begins. We are doing what we need to do now to ensure our ability to be poised and ready for this work.”
Travel Portland has scaled back work in key international markets where direct flight service has been halted. Additionally, work to support meeting planners who have conventions coming to town has stalled with many upcoming meetings postponed or cancelled. The focus areas where Travel Portland will maintain work include advocacy for the hospitality community, convention sales, marketing, communications and operations. Travel Portland’s work has always, and will continue to be, in alignment with regional tourism partners in the metro area, as well as Travel Oregon, the Oregon Convention Center, the Port of Portland, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, the U.S. Travel Association, the local hotel community and the local business partners who define the city.
Travel Portland’s partners in the public and private sectors are convening task forces to identify the immediate and long-term needs of the industry as well as strategies for initiating a rapid and comprehensive recovery when it becomes safe to do so. Travel Portland is, and will continue to be, an active participant in these groups to ensure travel and tourism representation in the local, regional and statewide conversations around meaningful support for the 36,930 Portland-area residents employed by tourism. Travel Portland is actively participating in the following task forces:
- the Metro Economic Response Team, co-convened by Governor Brown’s Metro Regional Solutions Program and Greater Portland, Inc.;
- the Economic Impact & Intervention Task Force, convened by Mayor Wheeler and Prosper Portland; and
- the Regional Business Relief Coalition, led by the Portland Business Alliance.
resident and visitor experience in Portland are suffering in numbers that could not have been imagined several weeks ago. With a goal of advocating for those partners through our civic connections, Travel Portland is also working to put tools and resources directly in the hands of business owners impacted by this situation: www.travelportland.com/covid-19-business-resources/.
“The Portland values of collaboration, innovation and an extreme dedication to hard work will carry us to the other side of this,” said Miller. “We see and acknowledge that the impacts on small businesses and their employees are
measurable and real. We are committed to supporting this local community as best we can, while also being ready to bring visitors back to our city and our small businesses just as soon as travel resumes. While part of our role is as
promoter of our city as a tourism destination, we are also a steward of this evolving city and its progressive values. We believe strongly in the good of Portland, and we are committed to doing this work alongside and on behalf of our partners.”
Where We WereIn February, Travel Portland shared industry statistics that showed Portland again punching above its weight in comparison to the city’s competitive set of tourism markets in the United States. These statistics will inform our
models of what recovery might look like post-COVID-19. According to Dean Runyan Associates, Portland’s tourism industry made significant gains in contributing to the economic health of the region between 2010–2019. Employment earnings nearly doubled during this time, increasing 94%, or from $808 million in 2010 to $1.6 billion in 2019. In the same time period, tourism spending grew 52%, from $3.7 billion in 2010 to $5.6 billion in 2019. Industry employment also received a 38% boost, from 26,700 in 2010 to 36,930 workers last year.
Travel Portland monitors the health of the region’s tourism industry — encompassing the cities of Portland and Gresham as well as Washington, Columbia and metropolitan Clackamas counties — by tracking a variety of
performance indicators. Year-over-year increases were reported in six key metrics: spending, earnings, employment, local taxes, state taxes and total taxes. The greatest jump for 2019 versus 2018 was in earnings, which
increased 7.6%. State taxes followed, with growth of 5.1%, and spending rose 4.8%. Additionally, the industry added workers, increasing jobs by 2.0%.
Where We Are NowAccording to the most recent report available from STR*, hotel metrics for the City of Portland show the devastating loss of business that started its decline in the first week of March and has only accelerated from there. While slight
declines in some metrics were anticipated due to the influx of new hotel inventory in the market, COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the market, which is reflected in the numbers. For the week of March 15-21, room
demand, or the number of rooms sold in a specific time period, was 74.9% lower than the same period last year. Hotel revenue declined 80.6% from the same period last year and occupancy totaled 18.3%, falling 76.1%from the
*STR is a research company that compiles data useful in measuring the health of the lodging industry from hotels throughout the world.