Columbia River Gorge
Destination Management Studio
- Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association
In 2015 the Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association (CRGVA) approached Travel Oregon seeking assistance with managing their complex, six-county, two-state destination. The 20-year-old destination marketing organization had come to a juncture where its outdated tactics and membership structure had rendered the organization ineffective in addressing current-day challenges. In their words, “it was time to sunset, or to sunrise.” With concentrate high use in some areas leading to negative impacts, and under-utilized rural communities struggling economically in other areas, something needed to be done to manage and balance visitation and its impacts.
Kristin Dahl brought together an innovative team of consultants and staff to design Travel Oregon’s first-ever Destination Management Studio. The goal was to meet the demands of the region and support CRGVA in developing a stronger coalition that could successfully address the challenges of an increasingly tourism-based economy.
Kristin and her team worked collaboratively with a local leadership team over seven months to assess the realities of the region, develop trust, design a high-impact engagement process and conduct outreach. Then the collaborative designed and executed a four-month community engagement process. This studio brought together more than 200 leaders from communities across the Columbia River Gorge, to create a unified regional vision for sustainable tourism, develop priority strategies to address concerns in high-use regions, and spread economic benefits to other areas.
Ultimately the 25-member leadership team decided to sunset the Columbia River Gorge Visitor Association. In its place, they envisioned a brand-new destination management organization that would include the U.S. Forest Service; other key land managers including parks and transportation agencies; and business and community leaders from across the two-state region.
The newly created Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance emerged in 2017, and has been involved in designing and implementing collaborative projects across the region ever since. Most recently, the Alliance built a region-wide destination network to coordinate information and action that will drive continued positive impacts across the Gorge.
- Assisted the Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association and its regional partners with creating a 25-member leadership team including the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon and Washington state parks, conservation organizations, transportation and economic development organizations, and Tribes.
- Designed and facilitated an engagement process for the leadership team to build trust; designed and produced the Destination Management Studio.
- Designed and facilitated a community engagement process encompassing more than 200 regional stakeholders, producing a regional vision for sustainable tourism and priority actions to develop: world-class outdoor recreation experiences, visitor transportation options, agritourism, cultural heritage and regional marketing.
- Helped establish a new destination management organization, the Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance, and its destination network.
- Read the full 2017 Columbia River Gorge Tourism Studio Program Summary to learn more about the process and people involved
- Watch the Columbia River Gorge Communities Powered by Travel video that captures their successes one year after the conclusion of the Studio
- Check out the Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance destination network diagram
- Visit the Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliance website
- Read the ‘Doing it Better: Columbia Gorge‘ case study that highlights results of the Gorge Tourism Studio and Columbia Gorge Tourism Alliances progress
- Future iQ
- Pandion Consulting / Adventure Travel Trade Association
- Walden Mills
- Metropolitan Group
Crosscurrent makes the complex simple.
01Set Up a Discovery SessionContact us to schedule a free 30-minute discovery session.
02Create a Road MapTogether we’ll sketch a road map to get a feel for the investment required.
03Get to WorkOnce the road map is clear and the details agreed on, we’ll get right to work!