Oregon Coast, Oregon — Eight Oregon Coast destination management organizations (DMOs) were granted a total of $201,240 to partner with Wheel the World, a global accessible travel company, in their effort to make the Oregon Coast more accessible to travelers with disabilities. The funds awarded are the result of a coordinated approach among partners to apply for Travel Oregon’s 2022 Capacity and Small Project Grants. These communities and organizations are working to provide disabled travelers with comprehensive, accurate information to make their stay on the Oregon Coast more accessible. Coastal organizations who received funds to partner with Wheel the World include: Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce, $35,000; City of Lincoln City, $20,000; Coos Bay-North Bend-Charleston Visitor & Convention Bureau, $25,000; Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce, $20,000; Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, $30,500; Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce, $33,190; Waldport Chamber of Commerce, $17,550; and, Yachats Chamber of Commerce, $20,000. These eight organizations will work with Wheel the World to conduct an accessibility assessment of local tourism businesses, receive accessibility training through Wheel the World Academy, and have local tourism businesses listed on WheeltheWorld.com, a comprehensive guide for travelers with disabilities to find and book accessible travel experiences. The Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA) catalyzed this effort by funding a coastal cohort to attend the 2022 TravelAbility Emerging Markets Summit, held in Orlando, Fla. last June. Following the 2022 Summit, OCVA regularly convened coastal partners to share best practices and progress on accessibility initiatives within the tourism industry. The Travel Oregon grant funding will enable many of these partners to attend the 2023 Summit to continue their learning and professional development in order to better serve travelers with disabilities on the Oregon Coast. Two other destination management organizations serving the Oregon Coast were also awarded funds to help with accessibility improvements. The Tillamook Coast Visitors Association was awarded $20,000 to work with Empowering Access to conduct an accessibility audit to identify gaps and shortcomings for accessibility for recreation users with mobility challenges. Travel Lane County was awarded $50,000 to expand the number of Hearing Loops in Lane County lodging properties, performing arts venues and other attractions in order to better serve visitors experiencing hearing loss. Quotes from grant recipients – “We are eager to work with Wheel the World, and our partners in the community, to better understand what is currently accessible to those with mobility challenges here in Astoria and Warrenton and to represent that experience accurately to travelers,” says Regina Willkie, marketing manager at Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce. “Once that capacity assessment is done, we look forward to identifying suggested improvements to continue to increase accessibility throughout our communities for visitors of all abilities and needs.” “The Coos Bay-North Bend-Charleston area is embarking upon a new strategic vision to ensure we are a welcoming destination for all travelers,” says Janice Langlinais, executive director of the Coos Bay-North Bend-Charleston Visitor & Convention Bureau. “Participating in these assessments will allow area businesses and attractions to ensure their facilities are accessible to those with physical disabilities. We are so pleased to be joining our fellow coastal destinations in this project and honored to have received these grant funds from Travel Oregon.” “The community of Waldport strives to be a destination known for inclusion, equity and diversity,” says Tom Fullmer, executive director of the Waldport Chamber of Commerce. “This grant will help our local businesses in their quest to capture the significant population of travelers who are disabled and to receive valuable inclusion in the Wheel The World global website.” “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with Wheel the World and share what we discover with people with disabilities interested in travel to Yachats,” says Bobbi Price, executive director of the Yachats Chamber of Commerce. Oregon Coast Visitors Association – The Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA) is the official Regional Destination Management Organization for the entire Oregon Coast as designated by the Oregon Tourism Commission (dba Travel Oregon). OCVA inspires travel and strengthens collaboration to create and steward a sustainable coastal economy. OCVA has the honor of working with coastal communities to align partnerships, destination development projects, and destination marketing with the vision of creating “a coastal utopia for all.” This includes coastal stakeholders, new and returning visitors, and the natural resources that make these coveted experiences so magical. Wheel the World – Wheel the World exists to help disabled travelers find and book accessible travel experiences including places to stay (hotels and vacation rentals), things to do (tours and activities), and multi-day trips (travel packages), serving more than 160 destinations worldwide. Wheel the World is committed to providing detailed information about what is accessible and specialized customer support throughout the entire experience, to ensure that travelers’ needs are fulfilled before, during, and after their trip.
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