May 4, 2018 — EUGENE—InnSight Hotel Management Group and Summit Bank presented the Eugene, Cascades and Coast 2018 Visitor Industry Celebration on May 3 at The Shedd Institute for the Arts. During the event, Travel Lane County honored Jenna Bartlett, past president of the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, and Sand Dunes Frontier for their work in the visitor industry.
Travel Lane County called the event “a celebration of the past year as we recognize outstanding contributions by individuals and groups within the industry.”
The events included several county-wide awards in leadership, community service and ambassadorship. One, the 2018 Destination Award, went to Sand Dunes Frontier, located south of the Siuslaw River Bridge on Highway 101, for “excelling in promoting the community and the Eugene, Cascades and Coast as a visitor destination.”
During the video presentation, Travel Lane County highlighted the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and the industries who make a living on the sand.
“For nearly 60 years, visitors have viewed the sand dunes from the sand rails and buggies operated by Sand Dunes Frontier. Owner Chuck Chapman and his professional staff have thrilled and awed locals and visitors with high-speed action and interpretive tours that leave everyone with a new respect for this national treasure,” the video said.
Camp host and maintenance man David Smith said people “get an experience like they’ll never get anywhere else,” especially international travelers.
Cody Wallace, sand rail driver, added that people love exploring the three ecosystems in the dunes: forest, sand and ocean.
According to Sand Dunes Frontier’s website, the business is the longest-running dune tour operator on the coast. Services include tours, ATV rentals and camping on the dunes.
“What separates Sand Dunes Frontier is their strong partnership with the tourism industry,” Travel Lane County said. “A professional and knowledgeable staff ensures that all visitors leave their dunes experience with a newfound respect for this beauty of this special place. And when people have a good time, they come back again and again.”
Getting visitors to return to the Florence area is a big appeal to the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce. As the primary marketing and business resource for the area, the chamber partners with Travel Lane County to promote western Lane County to the outside world.
People are drawn to “Oregon’s Coastal Playground,” the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce’s motto for the area, to explore a bounty of outdoor adventures, admire the beauty of the coastal landscape, visit Historic Old Town Florence, eat at unique local restaurants and attend events and meetings at several venues.
“Tourism is doing nothing but growing here,” said Chamber Executive Director Bettina Hannigan.
She said that tourism is thriving because of the chamber’s board of directors, numerous volunteers, the paid staff of two and people like Bartlett, who is active in several community groups, including the Florence Rotary Club, the Rhododendron Court Committee and the chamber board.
Hannigan and the board nominated Chamber Ambassador Mike Bones for the Tourism Ambassador Award in 2017, then in its first year. She said it was a “given” this year to nominate Bartlett, who has given many years of work as a chamber committee member, community partner and board president. Bartlett is also the group publisher of the Siuslaw News and the Cottage Grove Sentinel.
“Jenna’s dedication to the chamber and its marketing efforts has put her in the perfect position to win that award,” Hannigan said. “She does so much, and it was nice to give her that recognition.”
Bartlett said it was an honor to receive the award with other industry leaders in Lane County.
In addition, Hannigan thanked Sand Dunes Frontier for its efforts in bringing people to the coast. Along with other dunes related businesses such as Sandland Adventures and Sand Master Park, Sand Dunes Frontier provides an adventure.
“Each of them offers something unique,” Hannigan said. “Sand Dunes Frontier offers camping right there. All of these sand adventures bring family-oriented recreation, which people are coming here looking for.”
During the ceremony, Travel Lane County presented the following awards:
In addition, the 2018 Tourism Ambassador Awards were chosen by each of Travel Lane County’s chamber of commerce partners:
Travel Lane County President/CEO Kari Westlund gave a state of the industry address and Keynote Speaker Oregon Film Executive Director Tim Williams highlighted films made in Lane County.
For more information about Travel Lane County and its efforts in supporting the Eugene, Cascades and Coast region, visit www.eugenecascadescoast.org.