▶️ Reopening has locals worried about possible influx of tourists

By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

It’s no secret that Bend is known as a tourist town, and with Deschutes County slowly beginning to reopen, some residents are concerned about outsiders coming into the area while the pandemic rages on.

“I live in a community that’s pretty highly populated with short term rentals,” Bend resident Allison Wirth said.

Wirth says she’s seen plenty of visitors in her neighborhood over the past couple of months, despite the city of Bend’s urgings to limit short-term rentals.

“I’ve asked at a distance when I’m walking my dog, you know, ‘Where did you come from?’, ‘What are you here for?’, and generally it’s Portland or Seattle and they’re just here for a getaway,” Wirth said.

And with the region slowly reopening, and a county ban on vacation rentals expiring, she’s worried.

“I think we’re going to see an influx,” Wirth said.

The City of Bend has discouraged tourists from coming for anything other than essential needs during the pandemic, although officials stopped short of imposing a ban.

Kevney Dugan, Presidnt/CEO of Visit Bend, says that their messaging is working.

“When you look at the lodging data, we dropped down to 15% roughly in hotels during the month of April,” Dugan said.

Dugan expects the numbers for vacation and short-term rentals will also be down for April, and says it will take years for the industry to recover.

“The month of March, collections were 65% down. Future projections are that July is going to be a shell of itself,” Dugan said. “It’s not going to overnight people are going to start traveling as freely as they were before this.”

Still, Wirth says, she’d like to see more done to prevent visitors for now.

“They should implement maybe a 30-day moratorium rentals shorter than 30 days to keep the citizens of Bend safe,” Wirth said.

Dugan says that when the hospitality industry does get the green light to reopen they’ll do so with safe and careful messaging.

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