Visit Bend presented its biannual tourism-trends update to Bend City Council on Monday. Despite some local perceptions, tourism is on the decline.
“There’s definitely been a softening in the industry in the last couple months. The reality is, the transient room tax is coming in about 10% softer than it did last year during the same few months,” President and CEO of Visit Bend Kevney Dugan said.
The update comes after a study was published in January showing nearly half of Bend residents think tourism costs outweigh the benefits.
RELATED: Study: Nearly half of Bend residents think tourism costs outweigh benefits
One major complaint that is often affiliated with tourism is the traffic.
“I’ve actually been thinking of moving out of town because it’s different than it was 20 years ago. Just a few minutes ago, I was like ‘All the cars. All the cars. All the cars. It’s the traffic,” Bendite Marry Connors said.
Dugan says tourism is used as a scapegoat for community issues, one that isn’t entirely fair.
“We talk to people on the planning commission and, a lot of the time, those same intersections are not seeing anymore traffic in April than in July,” Dugan said. “There aren’t necessarily more cars on the road in the summer. It has more to do when they’re on road and where they are on the road that changes and that’s uncomfortable.”
Dugan says the factors for the drop in tourism are speculative, but they could be due to fears of an economic recession or the numbers could be a correction from a post-covid surge in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.