In response to requests from the Bend business community for opportunities to help bring major events and travel groups to Bend, Visit Bend has announced a program whereby local businesses will contribute to a Visitor Development Fund that will be used to attract major events, conferences, and conventions to the City of Bend.
This fund is separate from Visit Bend’s annual working budget, and will be used to offset outside costs and mitigate risk associated with bringing these events and groups to Bend.
At the core of the Bend Visitor Development Fund is an advertising program that provides partners with online exposure on www.visitbend.com, print advertising in the Official Bend Visitor Guide, and other benefits to businesses contributing to the Bend Visitor Development Fund. The resulting pool of money will be used to attract major events, concerts, festivals, conferences, and conventions to Bend.
“Similar to other tourism destinations that pool their resources to bring people, money, and businesses into their communities, the Bend Visitor Development Fund provides local businesses an opportunity to contribute to the effort while receiving effective advertising exposure in the process,” said Bill Smith, developer of the Old Mill District. “Bend businesses, including the Old Mill District, have wanted to contribute to the tourism effort for a long time but have not had an appropriate outlet to do so. This program provides that outlet.”
Participation levels in the Visitor Development Fund range from $180 to $2,900 per year, depending on the advertising package a business selects. Examples of how these funds will be used include paying host fees for major conferences and events, paying bid fees to compete for major conferences and events, mitigating the risk for conference and event producers to bring their events to Bend, and off-setting expenses of event operators who choose to bring their conference or events to Bend.
“As Bend’s economy strives to find equilibrium, our tourism industry has become increasingly vital to the economic health of our community,” said Doug La Placa, president and CEO of Visit Bend. “Bringing major events, conferences, and conventions to Bend requires money and community wide support, and the resulting economic impact from these groups provides a substantial benefit to the entire community.”
Travel Oregon and Dean Runyan and Associates reported that tourism generates nearly $580 million annually for the region and employs 16% of the Deschutes County workforce.
The concept of the Visitor Development Fund is not new to the tourism industry. Similar to other destinations that pool funds to establish a minimum revenue guarantee fund for their direct flights, Visit Bend has established the Bend Visitor Development Fund.
Examples of the types of groups the Visitor Development Fund will help secure are major concerts and conferences, the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, USA Cycling Road Racing National Championships, the XTERRA Trail Running National Championships, and other similar events.
The Visit Bend Board of Directors will provide strategic oversight of the Visitor Development Fund, conduct due diligence on what events and industries to pursue, and oversee allocation of the collected funds toward these events.