PORTLAND, Oregon Creative marketing and new attractions are keeping
Portland’s tourism scene vibrant.
A recent report by the research firm of Dean Runyan Associates
stated that 2002 visitor spending in the Portland area reached
$2.43 billion, 1.8 percent more than in 2001.
“The poor economy has caused dramatic cutbacks in
business-travel spending throughout the United States,” said Joe
D’Alessandro, Portland Oregon Visitors Association president. “POVA
and its partners have had to scramble for additional leisure
travelers and convention bookings to help fill the corporate
Through promotions like the Big Deal campaign, which offers
discounted hotel rates and other specials during Portland’s
off-season, more leisure travelers are choosing Portland as a
vacation destination, said D’Alessandro. From October to December
2002, bargain hunters booked 5,400 hotel room nights, a 25 percent
jump over the same period in 2001.
Here’s a look at what’s new in the City of Roses:
c In April 2003, the 500,000-square-foot Oregon Convention
Center unveiled a 407,500-square-foot expansion, making it the
largest convention facility in the Pacific Northwest. The
$116-million project allows the center to host two midsize
conventions simultaneously. The center now boasts 255,000 square
feet of exhibit space and a new 34,400-square-foot ballroom.
503-235-7575; www. oregoncc.org.
c In September 2004, the Metropolitan Area Express (MAX)
light-rail system will open a 5.8-mile spur linking the Portland
Metropolitan Exposition Center with the downtown hotel core and
Oregon Convention Center/ Rose Quarter area. The $350-million
project completes the plan to link all of Portland’s major
convention facilities via light rail. For visitors at Portland’s
airport, the MAX Red Line departs every 15 minutes. The 38-minute
trip downtown costs $1.55 per adult. 503-238-7433; www.tri met.
c On the new Lewis & Clark Explorer Train, offered by the
Oregon Department of Transportation, visitors can trace the
historic path of the Corps of Discovery from Portland to Astoria,
the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. Trains leave at
7:30 a.m., hugging the banks of the Columbia River and passing
sites visited by the famous explorers. Clients have five hours to
explore Astoria before boarding the return train to Portland at
4:30 p.m. Through Sept. 2, 2003, trains run Friday to Monday, with
one Tuesday departure on Sept. 2. The summer service runs through
2005. Tickets are available by calling Amtrak. 800-872-7245; www.
c Oregon Zoo’s Deep Sea thrill ride debuted May 16. Seated in a
simulation theater, visitors feel like they’re riding under water
in a submersible, as they follow a giant squid and sperm whale.
Computer-controlled hydraulics move the audience in sync with the
action on the screen, and high-tech video and audio systems add to
the drama. Deep Sea costs $4 per person in addition to the regular
zoo admission. 503-226-1561; www.oregonzoo.org.
The Forest Discovery Center (formerly World Forestry Center)
is installing new interactive exhibits aimed at youngsters.
For instance, construction begins this summer on a pavilion for
a renovated century-old working carousel with 56 hand-carved
animals. Set in Washington Park, the center is adjacent to several
other family-oriented attractions, including the zoo and the
Children’s Museum. 503-228-1367; www.world forestry.org.
c Oregon Museum of Science and Industry has retrofitted its
Omnimax Theater to show feature-length films on its five-story
screen. Previously, the theater was limited to running movies of
one hour or less, but now clients can enjoy feature-length film
with digital sound. The facility is one of only 80 such theaters
worldwide. 503-797-4537; www.omsi.edu.
c Portland’s new Eastback Esplanade has a 1.5-mile
pedestrian/cycling trail that extends along the east side of
downtown’s Willamette River. Highlights of the $40-million project
include a 1,200-foot floating walkway that sits atop the river, an
adjoining 120-foot public boat dock, public art and the new Steel
Bridge pedestrian/bicycle river crossing at riverbank level. The
esplanade is part of a long-term plan to enhance the east bank.
Future development will provide a boathouse, scenic overlooks and a
park. 503-823-2223; www.parks.ci.portland.or.us.