The coronavirus pandemic and related government orders for social distancing have put a strain on local businesses. In particular, the travel industry has taken a huge hit. According to Smith Travel Research, in May 2019 Corvallis sold 17,968 room nights/hotel rooms while in May 2020 the Corvallis market place sold only 5,131 hotel room nights/hotel rooms; a drop in demand of 71.5% for traditional lodging. Thankfully, none of the 31 local lodgings which can be found on the Visit Corvallis website have been forced to permanently shut down due to Covid.
Travelling, especially out of state has been strongly discouraged in order to flatten the curve and prevent further spread of the virus. However, according to Christina Rehklau, the executive director at Visit Corvallis, “travel guide requests by fellow Oregonians is up by 30% over last year” as people try to find local trips to stay busy and get outside.
OSU events, as well as visitations from family and friends of OSU students make up a large portion of tourism in Corvallis. The cancellation of the OSU graduation ceremony meant that not only would these visitors be absent this year, but many students left the area after the transition to remote learning. According to executive Rehklau though, businesses have anticipated this change and “several businesses state that they have returned to normal revenue numbers, however, their revenue streams are coming from very different sources than prior to COVID-19.” This gives local businesses hope that they will continue to thrive, even if OSU events are affected in the fall.
Other draws to the area include local wineries, outdoor activities, and the proximity to the Oregon coast. With Phase 2 reopening, these draws are once again encouraging visitors to get outside and enjoy all that Oregon has to offer. Rehklau applauds the resiliency of local businesses, saying “it has been great to see the community support and new partnerships forming between businesses. I’m amazed at the creativity and resiliency of our local small business owners.”
By Emily Weninger