PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The state’s tourism promotion commission Travel Oregon is laying off 17 employees, furloughing others and cutting pay as it copes with dropping revenues amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The agency, funded solely through lodging taxes, has seen industry activity plummet as stay home orders were issued in many states including Oregon to stem the spread of the virus. Statewide hotel occupancy rates are down 63% compared to the same time last year, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
As a result, Travel Oregon forecasts that its revenues will drop in the quarter ended June 30 from a budgeted $8 million to $3 million. For the following year, if trends continue, revenues will be 40% to 50% less than predicted before the pandemic.
Last week, the agency announced internally that effective June 1, it would lay off 17 of its 64 employees, furlough another three indefinitely and eliminate two vacant positions. The agency cut salary for all remaining positions with larger reductions for executives and managers whose high salaries were called out in a state audit earlier this year.
Travel Oregon CEO Todd Davidson will take a 20% hit to his nearly $400,000 pay package.
The agency is cancelling or reducing contracts, ranging from media buys to independent representatives who promote travel to Oregon. It also plans to close its Salem office.
Ninety-two Oregonians have died from COVID-19 and more than 2,350 positive cases have been confirmed in the state, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Additionally Monday, state Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle on Monday instituted one unpaid furlough day per month for managers in her agency because of the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the state’s economy.
The furloughs, to continue through the end of the budget cycle in June 2021, are the Bureau of Labor and Industries’ first step toward dealing with the significant budget shortfalls that the state will likely face, she said in a news release. More will be known about the extent of future budget cuts following the May budget forecast, she said.