John Sexton at Hat Hair, Portland tourism not recovering thanks to street conditions
Earlier this month the city of Portland passed a ban on the open use of drugs. But as I mentioned when I wrote about the ban here, it hasn’t gone into effect yet. That’s because the state legalized hard drugs via Ballot Measure 110. So the city ordinance can’t begin until the state law is changed.
One of the people arguing for the change is Jeff Miller, CEO of Travel Portland. He made the case at the city council meeting where the new ban was passed that the city’s tourism is struggling because of the conditions in the street.Hotels in Portland’s central city sold 1.2 million rooms in the first seven months of 2023, according to hotel industry data firm STR. That’s down 20% from 2019. A rebound in hotel room bookings that appeared to be underway in the first part of the year stalled out over the summer, leaving room sales approximately flat from 2022.As the Atlantic has pointed out, Oregon’s experiment with drug legalization has been a disaster. The lack of tourism in Portland is really the least of it. There has also been a rise in overdose deaths which was entirely predictable. Now there is pressure to revised measure 110.
“By the numbers, other cities are recovering from the economic effects of the pandemic much faster than Portland,” Miller told the City Council. He said Seattle rooms sold are up slightly from 2019 while other cities have notched considerably improvement – Denver is up 25%…
Convention activity is pretty solid this year, Miller said, because events were booked before the pandemic. But he said the vast majority of events have at least some delegates reporting negative experiences downtown, and he said many conventions that canceled during the pandemic opted not to rebook in Portland because they considered the city too dangerous.
“Visitor sentiment is not improving, and we know the reputational damage being done has the potential to last if we don’t seek quick action to make our streets safer,” Miller said.
I mean, who wouldn't want to go to a fancy downtown hotel, and be surrounded by homeless encampments, human feces, needles and human refuse!