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Smoke leaves Riverbend Park empty; Bend hotel visitor counts down sharply

(Update: Visit Bend occupancy data released)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- On Tuesday, Riverbend Park was mostly devoid of any human activity, due to the smoke.

Just last month, Riverbend Park was packed with activity, with visitors taking their paddleboards and kayaks out on the water as joggers made their way around the trail.

Kevney Dugan, the CEO of Visit Bend, shared the latest weekly report of out-of-town visitors traveling to Bend with NewsChannel 21 Wednesday.

The data shows lodging occupancy rates were off 23% on Friday and 38% on Saturday, compared with the same weekend last year.

"This indicates to me that many canceled weekend plans due to smoke, which is what we all assumed," Dugan said.

The smoke did not stop some from continuing their travels to the area, although it posed some other barriers.

NewsChannel 21 spoke Tuesday with a man at Riverbend Park, who had just arrived to Bend from Portland. He preferred not to give his name.

He said he worked temporary odd jobs before he became unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said his mom, who lives in La Pine, is trying to help him find a place to stay until he can find another job.

He said the smoke makes the job hunt more difficult.

"The DMV is closed for the next couple days," he said. "They haven't even specified how long it's going to be closed for, so I can't get my license to start."

He also said getting to Bend from Portland took longer than he had planned, due to the smoke and fire danger closing many bus and train routes.

Bend / Central Oregon / Oregon-Northwest / Top Stories
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Rhea Panela

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



  1. I think the more that the Democrat destroys the state- the economy- the environment- the education system… the more harm they do to their own party and chances at getting re-elected.

    It’s gonna be a hard sell for any Democrat to argue an historical “success” rate in this state- damn near impossible- just look around you… and try to comprehend that the people are speaking English- and not Chinese !

  2. Another ktvz article about tourism that spites city of bend regulations… OF COURSE the hotels should be empty, if everyone else follows the rules but exceptional bends exceptional tv station!!! If the hotels are warning tourists they arent welcome here, per bipartisan city council rulings- why isnt this bend based tv station complying? Do your owners really think they are that important, or do they just ignore the rule of law when it suits them? This isnt ethical journalism and you know it, especially coming from a national affiliate

    1. This article does nothing you imply. It is factual. We don’t cite the city’s resolution in every story, but it has been amply covered by us and others. The city urged, it did not impose violations or fines on travelers.

      1. Pretty funny how you have to go to the “Visit Bend” web site where is says nothing about discouraging tourism in Bend. Then you have to click on the Covid 19 updates and read everything through page 5 to get to the part about how you probably shouldn’t be sight seeing in Bend during Covid. I’m sure they really mean it. It’s all about the money!

        1. Gee, I just clicked on the link. In the middle of their home page, there is a button for “Get the Latest News”. I clicked it and it took me right to their page discouraging travel to this area. I guess you like taking the scenic route.

          1. Gee, to tell you the truth if I was an out of town visitor it never would have occurred to me to look at the Bend website for anything. I would have made sure there was a motel available but that’s about it. Modern technology. What will they think of next?

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