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Amid reopening, city of Bend still discouraging tourism, non-essential travel

(Update: Adding quotes from Visit Bend, Visit Central Oregon)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The city of Bend is discouraging tourists from visiting the area until it is safer to do so, and with Memorial Day weekend just around the corner and summer fast approaching, it could leave a heavy financial impact on the city.

The state lifted some restrictions in Deschutes and most other counties last Friday, but Gov. Kate Brown’s stay at home order remains in effect. Phase I of her reopening plan could last at least three weeks. 

Gov. Brown’s plan still discourages non-essential travel, and the city's extended emergency declaration passed unanimously Wednesday night by city councilors does much the same. (It does not apply to stays longer than 30 days, or people without permanent homes.)

Bend City Manager Eric King told NewsChannel 21 Thursday the city received an average of $9.2 million a year from hotel and short-term vacation stays between 2016 and 2019. 

He said $6.2 million of the revenue from hotel and vacation rentals stay within the city. Of that, $200,000 goes directly to the general fund for city services, which supports the police department, fire department and street maintenance.

King said $3 million cycles back to tourism promotion through the city’s contract with Visit Bend, which state law dictates.

Visit Bend says outdoor recreation, leisure and brewery tourism make up 69% of the most common reasons people come to Bend. That is according to Visit Bend’s latest summer visitor survey conducted in 2017.

The survey says Californians made up 19% of out-of-state visitors, with Washington following at 15%. Data shows Bend also attracts a large portion of in-state visitors, drawing in 30% of visitors from the Portland area.

Kevney Dugan, the chief executive officer of Visit Bend, said it is up to residents of Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties to support their local businesses.

“I’ve been with Visit Bend 10 years, and when I first got here, about a third of our people were repeat visitors from outside the area,” Dugan said. “We now flipped that on the head, and about 66 percent of our visitors are people who have visited before.”

Until non-essential travel is welcome again, Dugan encourages Central Oregon residents to become tourists in their own cities and explore places they have not visited before, whether that includes going to Mt. Bachelor or going on a Wanderlust Tour.

“People are going to destinations that they’re comfortable with,” Dugan said. “To me, that means people who have visited Bend in the past and liked their experience have a high likelihood of coming back when the time comes.”

Joey Hamilton, the chief marketing officer of Visit Central Oregon, said it is unusual for a tourism office to discourage people from visiting. However, he said he believes it is their responsibility to keep their community safe.

“You’d like to think that everyone would be able to survive, but I think that just might not be possible,” Hamilton said. “There are a lot of things out there that are trying to help businesses recover from this, but sadly I think that some business will not come out in the end.”

Bend / Central Oregon / Coronavirus / Government-politics / Top Stories
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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.



  1. Looking at the best weather forecast MD weekend has seen in the 20 years I’ve lived here, it is going to be a mess. All the fools coming in from out of town that are ignoring the Stay at Home order are likely to ignore other recommendations too. Out of state plates are already on the rise in the last 2 weeks and mask wearing is down in all the stores. All we can do is stay at home and pray for the market workers and take out crews to stay healthy.

    1. The virus is nothing to worry about unless you have a pre existing condition. Those people know who they are and can take their own precautions.

      1. You don’t get it. I wear a mask to protect YOU from me. If you don’t wear a mask, what protects ME from you?
        This whole mask controversy has exposed YOU as the irresponsible person who has absolutely no regard for your neighbor.
        Rest assured we all will remember your behavior. People who know you will mark you down as a selfish uncaring covidiot
        Hopefully you don’t have a underlying health issue you don’t know about.

        1. I don’t need your protection. It doesn’t matter if I get covid as I’m not in the at risk group. No underlying conditions and not old or obese.

          Again, only the at risk people need to take pre-cautions and they know who they are. The data clearly shows that those not in the at risk group have as much of chance from dying of covid as winning the lottery.

          1. That’s correct. You don’t need my protection. I wear a mask to protect you in case I have it but I’m not showing symptoms yet. Because if I give it to you, who doesn’t wear a mask because you only think of yourself, then you’ll be contagious for 2-10 days before you show any symptoms. During that time you may go visit your parents this weekend. I don’t want your parents to die, so I wear a mask when I’m out and about.
            If we view ourselves as besieged victims losing our rights or freedoms, then we cultivate anger and fear. If we view ourselves as a community working hard to protect the most vulnerable among us, then we cultivate courage and helping. My wearing a mask or staying 6′ away from someone is not a political statement or a sign of weakness, it’s an expression of respect for you, and your parents.

      2. It was interesting sitting out in front of Lowe’s Redmond the other day to see how many older obese individuals were coming and going without masks. So I and others tend not to agree with your statement that those people with underlying conditions know who they are.

        1. It’s bad enough that American’s are becoming so reliant on government programs. But judging from your comment your dependence has gotten to a point where you’ve become so dull witted that you rely on politicians to think for you.

      3. Your assignment (along with Wishy’s, who apparently decided to opt out because he’s totally incapable of doing it) is to use CDC guidelines and determine the amount of the US population has “pre-existing conditions.” Then add the willfully ignorant, selfish, greedy, and egotistical (also pre-existing conditions). If you do your research correctly there probably will appear to be very few “normal” people.
        Now you want to take those at-risk folks along with the “normal” ones and ask them to take precautions? I think they already have. It’s called VOTING for a Governor and Legislature that represents their views. Sorry, but I think you lost that one.

        1. Strange. I posted a link from the cdc and NVSS, and barney said it was conspiracy theory and fanciful facts….after he asked me for a neutral and objective source

        1. Look at the data, overwhelming the deaths are from those with underlying conditions, of course there will be some outliers. The flu kills for children.

    2. Agree. One wonders how any state/province/country is going to handle tourism. So many places, like here, are much too dependent on tourist dollars. Without a comprehensive testing and tracking system being rigorously adhered to, many unnecessary deaths will happen. The good news, though, is that once enough people unnecessarily die from covid, we will realize we have to have a testing system. That is going to happen. The question is, how many have to die before theleasers and the unwashed masses realize Covid owns us and demands we respect her before we can defeat her.

      1. We have more testing than we need- almost 100,000 negative tests have shown you what ? That maybe the hysterics surrounding your deadly pandemic have been blown completely out of proportion ? That maybe hospitals- suffering the negative affects of shutting down all selective surgeries- are facing a financial crisis- that only more fake tests can help address ?? Isn’t the bigger question here is- if Oregon has produced 100,000 negative tests for the Wuhan Chinese Corona Virus… what did those tests show ???

        Think deeper- think harder- stop being a ZNN21 ninny !

    3. I’d say the “fools coming in from out of town” has been going on for quite a while. F-Book construction in Prineville continues to bring large scale numbers of workers poaching jobs from Portland-Idaho-and Washington.

      There has been no attempt by local Crook County Government leaders to halt or address this increased risk to the rural community.

      F-Book should address the local community and clearly identify the measures these “outsiders” are taking to prevent a full scale outbreak… dangerous times !

    1. A lot of great people in Burns/Hines. Stayed in the RV park east of town, never been treated better. When we had to take turn when I was umpiring HS ball, never been more welcomed before, during, and after. Depending on the weather, between innings, someone was bringing out hot coffee or a cold soda. They also stood in the door of our dressing room to make sure we were good. Never had an unpleasant experience in Burns. Great people. Great mom and pop businesses.

    2. I think a better question is why hasn’t the local moderator reined in some of these haters with their constant offensive and vulgar comments.

      There are a large number of those I term “Barney’s Kids” who are allowed to run their mouths rampant all day long without fear of being censored or reprimanded by the local gate keeper- the only difference I see between many of them and other posters- is that they are all lefty liberal supporters of the Oregon welfare state- the sanctuary city bunch with a narrow and myopic vision of the world.

      Now wait for the backlash to that heavy dose of reality… here it comes…

      1. I dare any neutral observer to compare their comments to yours (which are 99 percent allowed too BTW) and say I am allowing “vulgar” comments through.
        I feel confident they’d tell you what I tell you – you’re absolutely wrong.

  2. I don’t know why many people ride the mask train when even according to CDC’s own study, face masks make no or minimal difference in the spread of COVID-19 unless it is an airtight N95 respiratory mask, which is reserved to health care workers. But if it makes you feel better just cover up, it won’t make a darn difference whether you infect others or not.

  3. Good Gawd- Look at all the newly anointed “mask experts” coming out from their Wuhan Virus safe rooms !

    You woulda never guessed that the majority of these same people posting here (TreHgr-DB-Tripod) were shouting me down a few months back when I promoted the MuGuWu strategy of “mask up- glove up- wash up”- commonly seen in Asian nations where “self-distancing” is completely impossible… now look at the experts- the converts- the nagging brow-beaters hating on anyone who shows up in public without a mask… I’ve even yet to hear an “atta-boy” from the local Mod- who just keeps doubling down on his own personal levels if ignorance.

    Not gonna gloat people- just gonna say… Yer Welcome !

  4. No tourists – who cares where they are from. Bend is not fully open. Stay away, be safe and care about ALL others. Even the ones with pre existing conditions, or the elderly, or others vulnerable. When Bend gets the nod for Phase 2, and that Phase includes tourists, so be it. Until then, cancel events that have large gatherings etc. No boogey man masked or not is out to get you. It is a virus. It is not the Wuhan virus (you little moron WH Mafia Don supporter). It is a contagious virus. Science over fantasy.

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