Destination Ready, a program provided by Travel Oregon, will provide an outside perspective of what Crook County has to offer

To boost local tourism and draw more visitors to the community, the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce is utilizing help from a Travel Oregon program.

The Chamber recently applied for Destination Ready: 2021-22 and will be participating in the Travel Oregon program during the first half of this year. Expert consultants will work with Crook County during a four-month time period to develop a destination assessment that identifies key destination experiences and projects that will bolster assets central to that experience. In addition, Travel Oregon will provide a “high-level baseline report” to support the process.

“It’s a different grant,” explained Chamber Director Kim Daniels. “It’s not like we’re getting money to build something or create something tangible. It’s more of consulting and project management, so then we can go forward to maybe spend the money on something more tangible. They do help us in finding grant funds as well.”

Travel Oregon oversees destination management for communities throughout the state. Daniels explained that the Chamber serves as the “destination management organization” for Prineville. The Chamber is under the Visit Central Oregon umbrella, which provides the same service for the region. That regional organization is then served by the Travel Oregon.

Daniels said the program is designed to provide local tourism leaders marketing ideas that may not occur to people within the community.

“We live here, and we think we know what’s best, but sometimes we don’t know what’s the best things to market,” she said. So, Destination Ready is expected to help identify key visitor experiences and what projects they can do to try and bring tourism to the area.

“They provide support and consulting and then help the Chamber come up with some funding options, so that they can complete projects and market the area outside of Central Oregon to people,” Daniels said.

Perhaps Travel Oregon could market fly fishing the Crooked River or visiting the Barnes Butte Recreation Area, she offered as examples.

“Is it going to be trying to get more people come around up to the rodeo?” Daniels said. “I don’t know. We’ll find out, I mean there’s a lot of the nice thing is, we have so many things in this town that we can focus on and different ways to do it, so that will be the interesting part, to see what they think we’re missing out on getting the public information about.”

The Chamber is no stranger to working with Travel Oregon to enhance tourism. Earlier this year, the organization was awarded grant funding to improve cycling in Crook County. In addition, the state organization promotes Prineville and Crook County with information on the Travel Oregon website, which people visit to figure out where they want to visit in Oregon.

“So, there’s always been a relationship and there’s always been a connection,” Daniels said. “They have grant cycles quite often…That’s not a new thing.”

But the Destination Ready grant is the first of its type that the Chamber has utilized since Daniels became director four years ago.

Going forward, Destination Ready will provide the Chamber with a baseline report. Work on a destination assessment will follow, which pairs destination leaders with development experts to reflect on and evaluate the destination’s top visitor offerings and identify priority projects to enhance them.

Then, from March until June, the process will shift to project proposal development. During this phase, local leadership will have direct support from consultants to develop competitive funding proposals based on assessment results.

“Our goal is to continue to try and get people to explore and discover Crook County and everything we have to offer,” Daniels concluded.


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