Tourism in Portland still struggling, on the mend

Portland might have made some progress after 2020, but some stats released today show there’s still more work to be done.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 9:16 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Portland might have made some progress after 2020, but some stats released today show there’s still more work to be done.

Travel Portland met with Portland City Council on Wednesday morning to present findings on the state of tourism in town.

The study showed that despite efforts to improve public perception of the city, locals are still hesitant to recommend it to friends and family.

In 2017, 88% of locals surveyed said they would recommend the city to friends and family. This year, that number is at 61%.

“Results show that Portland residents and younger residents are more likely to recommend the city as a place to visit. Additionally, how recently people visited downtown has a direct correlation to whether or not they recommend the city,” Travel Portland’s Chief Strategy Officer Megan Conway said in Wednesday’s meeting.

Greg Astley, the Director of Government Affairs for the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, told Fox 12 the public perception is keeping the hotel industry down.

“Whether it’s the crime that we hear about, the homelessness issue, and the feeling that people may have, the perception that it’s not safe to be in downtown Portland…those are some of the things people are hearing.,” Astley said.

Portland hotels showed a 12% improvement in bookings from last year, but between 2019 and this year, there were 80,000 less room bookings in the month of April.

“Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done quickly,” Astley said. “We’ve heard from the city that there are plans for two years out, three years out. Some of these hotels don’t have two months. Their occupancy rates are such that they are barely breaking even, if they are even doing that.”

In Downtown restaurants like Huber’s Café, the data is no surprise either.

“Dollar-wise, we’re probably down I would say 20% from that period of time,” said owner James Louie, comparing to business levels in 2019.

“With the vandalism and some of the violence, there’s a perception even from people who live in Portland that it’s not safe to come downtown,” Louie added.

Travel Portland representatives said they’re putting together a group of younger locals to shine a light on downtown businesses and restaurants, for a change in perception that those in the tourism industry hope will push things out of the red.

“I think we find that when people come to visit Portland, they find that it’s not as awful as they thought it was going to be, and it turns out to be a more positive experience,” said Astley.

You can read Travel Portland’s full report here: ext-2023-06-07-city-of-portland-presentation-submission-copy.pdf