▶️ Don’t Visit Bend: Virus forces tourist town to change its tune

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Concerns are growing about visitors overwhelming Central Oregon during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend.

A number of actions have been taken to discourage travelers from coming here.

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a time for Oregonians to get outside, travel to their favorite destinations and welcome the start of summer.

Today, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and a bi-partisan group of 26 mayors from across the state urged all Oregonians to keep it local this weekend to prevent the spread of COVID 19.

Central Oregon Daily News asked Kevney Dugan, President and CEO of Visit Bend, if he thinks people will observe and heed instructions from the Bend marketing organization and the governor’s office

“I think some people will. We’ve fielded quite a few emails at Visit Bend, people asking ‘Is it OK to travel?’ Our response is ‘not yet,'” Dugan said. “At the same time, I believe there’s a group of people who will travel and they see this in a different perspective. I think that’s been one of the hardest parts about this.”

Larry Sidor of the Crux Fermentation Project, said his phone is ringing off the hook with “customers calling from Portland wondering if we are going to be open this weekend. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing. I really think we are going to be inundated with people from the valley and Seattle.”

Through the Central Oregon Visitors Association, Travel Oregon published a list of what is open including Sunriver Resort and Eagle Crest.

But the list only went out in Central Oregon, not statewide.

The goal, they say, is not to encourage travel; but to encourage locals to stay local.

“It is a little strange being in destination marketing and having to tell people now is not the right time to come visit,” said Joey Hamilton, Central Oregon Visitors Association’s Chief Marketing Officer. “But it’s an easy choice for us because right now are decisions are being made on what is the best for the safety and health of our own community.”

This Memorial Day weekend Governor Brown says the safest place to be is a backyard barbecue or a small family gathering.

She’s asking all Oregonians to stay local.

If they do need to get outside to go hiking, paddling or cycling to do it close to home and bring a mask for when you are in close proximity to others.

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