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Chamber hopes to draw tourists from Washington
Changes coming to Union County tourism efforts
An effort to boost Union County tourism has the Union County Chamber of Commerce director casting an eye toward the Tri-Cities, Wash., area.
Kristen Dollarhide, who joined the chamber as executive director last fall, told the La Grande City Council in a Monday night work session that she hopes to pull visitors from the Pendleton and Tri-Cities areas while Baker City pulls from Boise.
Dollarhide told councilors she is working to get radio advertising on the air in Pendleton and the Tri-Cities and is working with Anthony Lakes Ski Resort on “ski and stay” packages.
“I really think we can have a different reach and pull people in,” she said.
Union County has also made a top 15 list for the best places in the nation to snowmobile, Dollarhide said, noting that the publicity should be used to draw people to the area.
The new director also talked about a partnership with the Eagle Cap Excursion Train. She noted that busloads of people come from Washington to ride the train, but that they often head right back once the train is back in Elgin. Her goal, she said, would be to get people to stay the night, shop and eat in the area before heading home.
Another change Dollarhide has made is that the tourism book now says “Union County and La Grande” and also lists the smaller communities of North Powder, Summerville, Island City, Imbler, Elgin and Cove. The director said this is a small effort to help those communities feel included in the chamber’s efforts.
The chamber has also stopped giving out visitor kits at tournaments. Dollarhide said the kits included coupons and information that was simply not valuable to people coming to those events. She said she would like to see the kits tailored to events.
“I think they’re great tools, but not the right tools,” Dollarhide said.
The chamber’s tourism budget will remain largely unchanged in the next fiscal year because the director is in her first year, Dollarhide said.
“I have a lot to learn when it comes to the budget,” she said.
Councilors, though, seemed optimistic about her work and the direction she plans to take tourism.
“I feel very strongly you’re doing a great job,” said Councilor John Lackey.