Kane: Oregon tourism is reaching new heights
If you're a longtime Oregon resident, it's likely you've noticed the influx of transplants and vacationers Oregon — particularly Portland and Bend — has attracted in recent years. Vacasa, a Portland-based vacation rental management company, noticed this trend, too.
Total direct travel spending in Oregon was $12.3 billion in 2018, up about 4% from the previous year. In 2018, 29 million visitors came to Oregon as more out-of-towners catch wind of the state's stellar outdoor recreational sports opportunities and, of course, the craft beer scene.
Vacasa, which has legs in both property management and real estate brokering, has noticed an uptick in buyers wanting to purchase vacation homes throughout Oregon. But it's not for themselves. Buyers see Oregon properties as a sound investment, with intentions to rent their properties out to the high number of vacationers coming to the state.
At the end of October, Vacasa raised $319 million from investors in a funding round size not typically seen in the Pacific Northwest. This was the company's second fundraising round, with their first last year bringing in $64 million.
Notably, Vacasa is now the region's second unicorn company — a private company valued at more than $1 billion. The valuation of this Portland-based group is perhaps another indicator of the increased vitality of Oregon's real estate industry, as well as the bullish sentiment of investors willing to put skin in the game.
So, what does this mean for local consumers and business owners?
For one, this tells business folks in the property management community that the vacation rental industry for Oregon should continue to see a lot of growth. Great for business and your bottom dollar.
For small business owners in well-traveled areas, which is not just Portland and Bend, but also the Mount Hood area and the coast around Lincoln City and Cannon Beach, these are positive signs. Take a moment to do some homework on seasonal visitor trends and visitor profiles to find out when the most people are going to be in your area and what activities, services, restaurants, they're looking for.
I also think it's interesting to point out that a lot of this increased tourism is international. This is because in recent years the Portland International Airport expanded from one international flight to 11 — including a non-stop to London!
Finally, for local consumers: Well, I think it means you'll need to start getting cozy at your favorite brewery and prepare to see more feet on your favorite trail. The beauty of Oregon is no longer a well-kept secret.
Danielle Kane is Portland marketplace manager for Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific, covering Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii.
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