Oregon travel, tourism bouncing back since covid pandemic

MEDFORD, Ore. – Tourism all over Oregon took a positive turn last year, especially in Jackson and Josephine counties.

“The travel and tourism industry specifically in Oregon and really the global economy was hammered hard by the impacts of the pandemic,” said the CEO of Travel Oregon, Todd Davidson.

The positive news is just in time for the 2023 summer season.

“We’ve been very encouraged by the rate of recovery of the travel and tourism industry here in Oregon since the pandemic,” said Davidson.

A new study from the Oregon Tourism Commission shows numbers are on the rise, after losing nearly half of its revenue during covid.

“We became a $6.5 billion industry, which is where we were in 2003,” said Davidson.

In Jackson County, travel spending recovered from a low of $363.9 million dollars during the pandemic, to $626 million in 2021. In Josephine County, travel spending went up from $80.6 million in 2020, to $171.5 million by 2022.

“We’re expecting a fairly normalized rate of growth year over year,” said Davidson.

At the Rogue Valley International Airport, Airport Director Amber Judd said, MFR saw the second-highest number of travelers in recorded airport history, in 2022. Davidson said all these visitors have also had a positive impact on employment.

“Tourism has become a 13.9-billion-dollar industry for the state of Oregon, employing over 117,000 Oregonians,” said Davidson.

It’s an impact Davidson said presents opportunities for not only southern Oregon, but the entire state.

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Shellye Leggett is an anchor and producer for NBC5 News. You can also catch her anchoring on KMVU FOX26. She comes to the Rogue Valley from Albuquerque, New Mexico where she was a nightside reporter and fill-in weekend anchor for KOAT Action 7 News for 3 years. She has also reported in Colorado Springs, Colorado, South Bend, Indiana and Bozeman, Montana. Shellye was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. She graduated from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois with a B.A. in Communication Studies. She then earned a Master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago. In her free time, she loves to hang out with her husband who's in the Navy, her cat “Tootsie,” watch scary movies with friends and spend time with her extended family who live all over the West Coast. Shellye is excited to explore Southern Oregon and North California and tell your stories.
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