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Tourism Week Brings Oregon Coast's Florence to Show Off Some Stats

Published 5/16/24 at 5:15 a.m.
By Andre' Hagestedt, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Florence, Oregon) – As National Travel & Tourism Week is sneaking up and just around the corner, starting May 19 to 25, for one Oregon coastal town this brings cause for some self-reflection and celebration. The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce is showing off some of its travel industry statistics and giving nods to its tourism partners in the area for aiding in its successes. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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National Travel & Tourism Week each year celebrates the industry and its essential role in driving the nation's economy. Around the U.S., it is a $2.8 trillion industry that supports nearly 15 million American jobs while fueling other important industries like manufacturing, health care, entertainment, and agriculture. It is an economic powerhouse that unites people and benefits society.

At home, the Florence chamber said it's celebrating this with its partners, which include Travel Lane County/Eugene, Cascades & Coast, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, Travel Oregon, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, and other chambers of commerce around the state.

Chamber’s president/CEO Bettina Hannigan said people from all over the world visit the little central Oregon coast town, including those from Europe and Asia. Many of them schedule trips specifically for Florence.

“Tourism in Florence accounts for a $320 million infusion to the local economy and just over half of all local jobs,” Hannigan said. “Our biggest tourism drivers are our annual Florence Rhododendron Festival, our Wine, Chowder, and Glass Float Trails Weekend (President’s Day Weekend), our temperate weather and ocean-fresh air, our miles of uncrowded beaches, immediate access to ancient forests and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, more than two-dozen lakes within a dozen miles.”

Attractions here can be manmade or natural. Hannigan pointed to Florence's two international-caliber golf courses, the fabulous Florence Events Center, and being known as both Oregon’s Coastal Playground and the Sandboarding Capital of the World.

There are some curiosities that drive visitations as well. Hannigan said the area is known for “being the inspiration for the Dune sci-fi novels and movies and the location for the world-famous exploding whale.”

Every November the town and many visitors gather to celebrate “Exploding Whale Day,” [Happy Exploding Whale Day: More to Oregon Coast Legend, Two Similar Whale Incidents] and Florence even has a park called Exploding Whale Park.

Media accolades are also something the agency is gushing over. Just from alone the town has snagged: “9 of the most welcoming towns in Oregon,” “one of 10 Coziest Small Towns in Oregon,” “one of the seven friendliest towns in Oregon,” #5 of “14 Best Small Towns to Visit on the Pacific Coast” (higher than Mendocino, Catalina Island, or Big Sur).

That's just the beginning of an incredibly large list.

“On average, our Visitor Center and Art Gallery at 299 Highway 101 serves more than 14,000 locals and visitors each year,” Hannigan said. “There are more than 4 million car trips past our office each year, and while that may include multiple trips by locals, it also includes thousands of visitors.”

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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