▶️ Local agencies promote tourism season with caution; still expect visitors

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

With tourism season just around the corner, how is Bend being marketed to visitors during a pandemic?

“I think just looking at last summer it was proof that even with the pandemic going on, people still want to get out and get out in wide open spaces,” Mackenzie Ballard, Visit Central Oregon director of marketing said. “And that is something that we offer here.”

This time of year, Visit Central Oregon would typically be promoting travel to our area.

Because we’re still in a pandemic, the tourism agency is taking a different approach by encouraging tourists to simply plan.

“So we’re just trying to keep the destination top of mind for them with that “plan now” message,” Ballard said. “Keep us out there, but really just help them think of the future.”

And yes, other local tourism agencies also anticipate those visitors to come.

“People are going to come to Bend regardless,” Beau Eastes, Old Mill District marketing director said. “I mean we saw that last summer right?”

Even selling local events is tricky, Eastes says the Old Mill is waiting it out.

“Nobody really knows in the event industry what July, August are going to look like,” Eastes said. “You know anything that we publicize, we want to make sure whoever is doing it is doing it in a safe manner as well.”

Eastes says the Old Mill is keeping an eye on state guidance, but because restrictions could change every two weeks, this is the safest plan for now.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all to circle our wagons and make sure we’re doing things right by our community,” Eastes said. “Then when it’s ready to invite others from outside the community in, we’ll be ready to do that.”

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