The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Community gathers to talk tourism potential

 

February 22, 2018

Diana Zimmerman

Wahkiakum County residents learned about the benefits of tourism from Nan Devlin, the tourism director for Tillamook County in Oregon on Monday afternoon in the River Street meeting room.

A group of curious and engaged residents showed up on Monday to listen to Nan Devlin, the tourism director for Tillamook County in Oregon, talk about the positive effect that tourism has had on her county and what it could do for Wahkiakum County.

"In Tillamook County we have hundreds of jobs going begging because there aren't enough people to fill them," Devlin said. "Tourism jobs have a really interesting benefit. Only 15 percent of tourism jobs are minimum wage."

Devlin said that tourism does not replace jobs, but creates possibilities for entrepreneurship and more.

She encouraged the group to take advantage of the many opportunities already available in the county to draw in visitors. She talked about the benefits of having public restrooms and signage.

A few members of the audience lamented the lack of a local leader to champion tourism in the county.

"Our biggest stumbling block right here," one member of the audience said, "is to get some one person to stand up and take leadership. It's going to be an elected politician. It's got to be a county commissioner."

"The current crew doesn't believe in tourism," another added.

"It means a lot of work for you," Devlin said, "if you are going to do this. Some stuff that requires you to dedicate resources, time, and people to the effort."

One participant asked about dealing with community members who don't want tourism.

"You're going to need outside money to keep going," Devlin said. "Plans help you manage attitude and change. There are towns on the Oregon coast and you can tell that nobody is in charge. They are unattractive. Plans retain character."

Different members of the audience talked about plans around the community including planting flowers and painting on Main Street. New signs are planned for historical homes around the area.

"We have an asset map and design concepts for downtown Cathlamet," Sandi Benbrook said. "We have a website in place for the chamber and we could create another one just for tourism. We have a pretty active Facebook page and the number of visitors is growing every month."

"We're planning on starting small," Cathlamet resident Kelly Patterson said. "It's amazing how a small project catches on. People are excited. People are asking what they can do. They want to help. It's igniting people."

 

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