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Bend hotel managers ‘disappointed’ by city’s new travel order

Say hotels are nearly empty, guests mainly here on essential stays anyway

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The city of Bend issued an executive order this week, discouraging tourists from visiting and any non-essential travel in town. As NewsChannel 21 found out, several inn and hotel managers say business is already pretty much non-existent.

The order, signed Wednesday by City Manager Eric King and City Attorney Mary Winters, states, in part, “…operators of temporary lodging facilities are strongly requested to refrain from booking any new reservations for tourist accommodation, and only book reservations needed for health, safety, or employment or other permitted essential travel."

Mayor Sally Russell said Friday, “We know that if we have people randomly coming into the community on vacation and leisure, that's not going to help us preserve that (hospital) bed for you when you get sick,"

NewsChannel 21 went to several inns and hotels in Bend Friday to find out if they've been housing tourists. Most of the general managers wanted to remain anonymous, but they cited some statistics to highlight the decline in capacity amid the new coronavirus.

During this time, on what would normally be the second weekend of spring break, the managers said hotels are usually at 90-95% percent capacity. Right now, they said, less than 10% of rooms are occupied.

That’s why a couple managers said they are upset the city of Bend felt the need to put out this order.

The general manager at the Hampton Inn and Suites said he was “disappointed."

He said out of 114 total rooms, only 15 were booked for Friday night, while just two are reserved for Sunday.

All of the general managers told me nearly each guest is either in staying for essential business, self-quarantining, passing through town for a night, or in the case of Courtney Gilbert and her mom, visiting from Seattle, checking in on loved ones.

“We don't want to be traveling,” she said. “We're just here because we need to see a family member that's ill. It was more out of an urgency to see that family member than a vacation or a holiday for us.”

Gilbert clarified by saying the family member she's visiting is in a wheelchair from an accident. She and her mom will be in town for less than 24 hours.

NewsChannel 21 spoke with one couple staying at the Pine Ridge Inn visiting from Salem for the weekend. They said they were here to “get away,” but would not comment any further.

Unless it's extended by the city manager, this order will be in effect until Apr 28. It said if non-essential travel continues or increases, the city could consider other measures banning non-essential travel within the city -- including penalties for violation.

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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.


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