Business & economy, In the community

Malheur County meetings will take pulse on tourism potential

Developing more tourism for Malheur County is the aim of public sessions scheduled next week across the county.

Drawing more people to visit the Owyhee Canyonlands, explore Oregon Trail history or take advantage of the desert night sky are among the possibilities.

The sessions are being conducted by the Eastern Oregon Visitors Association with the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce. The cities of Vale and Nyssa are helping as well.

“We want to find out who’s interested in tourism, who’s got projects and how to make those efforts a little more coordinated,” said Kate Harbour, visitors association interim deputy director.

Harbour said that more people took to the outdoors during the pandemic and Malheur County has the opportunity to keep that traffic and build on it.

“People are still looking to get outside,” she said.

 She said the county appears to have considerable cultural assets.

“We’re really interested in stories about the people who live here and their history,” she said. “We’re looking for local partners to lead that.”

She said outdoor recreation is a “huge opportunity” that include developing more “guided experiences.”

But how the tourism track develops will depend on what happens at the public sessions. There is no cost.

“The purpose of these sessions is really relationship building between us and local partners who are interested in tourism,” Harbour said.

She said at each session, representatives of the visitors’ association will share information on tourism trends in Malheur County and the state, focusing on eastern Oregon.

Attendees will then inventory assets, such as Vale’s murals.

“What do we have that we’re excited about?” Harbour asked.

She said each session would close with participants deciding on “tangible next steps.”

The sessions:

Vale – Monday, Nov. 6, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Vale Senior Center.

Ontario -– Tuesday, Nov. 7, from 10 a.m. to noon at Four Rivers Cultural Center.

Nyssa – Tuesday, Nov. 7, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Nyssa Senior Center.

A registration form is available online:

For more information, contact the association at [email protected].

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