Gorge Tourism Summit to be held Wednesday

Steering committee includes Rene Carroll, of Washougal

Next session will be held at Skamania Lodge

A series of tourism development workshops will gather ideas from community leaders and lodging property owners regarding marketing the area in and near the Columbia River Gorge.

Tourism business entrepreneurs, tour operators, land managers, guides, outfitters, outdoor enthusiasts, restaurateurs, event producers and anyone interested in strengthening the local economy through tourism are also encouraged to participate in the program.

Workshop dates and locations include Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Skamania Lodge, 1131 S.W. Skamania Lodge Way, in Stevenson, and Wednesday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Marine Park Pavilion, 395 Portage Road, Cascade Locks, Oregon.

Complimentary networking sessions will be held Tuesday, Feb. 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., at Skamania Lodge; and Tuesday, March 15, from 5 to 8 p.m., at Marine Park Pavilion.

Another workshop will be held Tuesday, April 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Wednesday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Skyline Hospital, 211 Skyline Drive, White Salmon.

A complimentary community tourism kickoff event will be held April 6, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, 4000 Westcliff Drive, Hood River.

Workshop topics will include leadership and destination management, heavy seasonality of visitation, congestion at key attractions during peak season and overtaxed infrastructure in some areas. There will also be discussions about integrating cultural heritage into the visitor experience while preserving cultural and environmental assets, capitalizing on and making the most of visionary projects underway in the Gorge, connecting resources for marketing the area as a destination and developing and connecting new experiences throughout the entire region, particularly focused on outdoor recreation, culinary/agritourism and cultural heritage.

The Gorge Tourism Studio is offered by Travel Oregon in partnership with 26 agencies and organizations, including the City of Washougal. Rene Carroll, a Washougal resident, is serving on the Gorge Tourism Studio steering committee.

Participants who attend at least four of the workshops or events will receive a certificate of completion from Travel Oregon. The cost per workshop, $10, includes lunch.

Registration is required for all of the events. To register, contact Casey Roeder, with the Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association, at casey@skamania.org or (509) 427-8911 or visit http://industry.traveloregon.com/industry-resources/destination-development/rural-tourism-studio/columbia-gorge/.