Canby Council meeting offers tourism presentation
Making Canby a tourist destination is part of a program being carried out by Canby's Economic Development and Tourism staff. At the same time, that department also is working with consultants on revitalizing downtown. Together these recommendations should help improve Canby's tourism.
The outside team working on tourism, Jon-Paul Bowles and Holly Macfee, first familiarized themselves with the city, the Chamber of Commerce and local leaders. They met with merchants and a marketing communications review. Macfee is from Lookout and Bowles from Destination Management Advisors.
That research led them to conclude that people love Canby for its community pride, manicured neighborhoods, the Molalla and Willamette Rivers, its intact downtown, nurseries, gardens and farms, proximity to Portland and its annual events.
They found that Canby has some challenges to increasing tourism and one of the big ones is signage. Bowles noted signs are not very visible, often they are too small and some are covered with foliage. He also noted it's hard to see a sign pointing to downtown as well as finding signs of what's going on in the city. Some signs are clustered making them hard to read while coming into the city.
However, the western scenic trip into the city is beautiful, he added, including the foliage around downtown and the colored iron sculptures. Bowles suggested creating and sending the top 10 things to do in Canby on a card to all residents in order to play them up when family and friends visit. It would be ideal to promote things to do as much as possible and get businesses to mention local restaurants and taking them on a Farm Loop tour.
In a survey Macfee and Bowles conducted, 15 percent of respondents indicated they had no concerns about increasing tourism, but the majority expressed concerns about increased traffic on Highway 99E, the perceptions that people wouldn't come to Canby, claimed tourism would ruin the city's small town charm and questioned whether people who weren't straight or white would want to come here.
Developing Canby as a product will lead to what brings visitors here. The landscape should be a big draw, Bowles said. For example, he reiterated throughout the presentation that scenery as well as the potential for recreation on the Willamette and Molalla Rivers would bring tourists. He also mentioned the nurseries, Swan Island Dahlias and festival, redevelopment along the rivers and history and culture.
Improvements could come from adding bathrooms near the river banks and various signs to increase the idea of having fun on and around the rivers. Other things he cited to improve getting people out and about would be adding businesses that rent canoes and other boats, guided tours and signs connecting the rivers to downtown Canby. He said that can be fixed by improving the boat ramp at Molalla River State Park, providing camping equipment and information about kayaking down river as well as pointing out things to do along the way to Canby such as Pat's Acres, golf, cycling and even things situated somewhat away like the End of the Oregon Trail.
He suggested making it easier to stay overnight in or near Canby using VRBO or Airbnb along with an RV Park at the fairgrounds or camping sights, or build that hotel people have been discussing for a year or so.
Then develop a tourism marketing plan that will inspire visitors to Canby pointing out benefits and real values over and above a list of attractions. Use pictures of the dahlias, local and nearby wineries and other activities that also will inspire people to come to Canby. He also suggested specific opportunities for what downtown needs like a wine bar, ice cream shop and a brewery as well as staying open later in the evening.
Basically, the path is laid out and the Economic Development and Tourism Department is working to make it work.
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