President and CEO, Travel Portland
Jeff Miller, president and CEO of Travel Portland, offers an insider’s perspective on all the destination offers to travelers. Miller directs the destination marketing organization’s efforts to position Portland as a preferred global destination for meetings, conventions and leisure travel.
Miller loves to visit the Oregon Coast, but as far as Portland goes, he especially enjoys spending time close to his home in the Kings Heights neighborhood. He can give you great recommendations on nearby Forest Park, Nob Hill neighborhood and Northwest 23rd Avenue.
Set against the backdrop of majestic Mt Hood, Portland combines a sophisticated, cosmopolitan atmosphere with a refreshingly friendly, small-town warmth that makes it welcoming to visitors of all types.
The smallest of the large west coast cities, Portland is yet to be discovered by many international visitors. Portland offers no shortage of activities to indulge in—tax-free shopping at local boutiques and national retailers; a culinary nirvana saturated with quality, local food, craft breweries, urban wineries, distilleries, and coffee and tea houses; 200 parks within the city limits; and less than a two-hour drive to access some of our state’s beautiful natural wonders: the Oregon Coast, Multnomah Falls, and Mt Hood.
The lifestyle of Portlanders is creative through and through, and no matter what it is you’d like to be, do, eat or drink — even if you’ve never tried it before — You Can, in Portland.
1.What’s new in Portland that inbound tour operators should know about?
Portland is experiencing a major hotel boom, with more than 1,700 rooms expected to come online by the end of the year and nearly that many again in 2018. It’s exciting to say that by 2020, our hotel inventory will increase by 40 percent, which means we can supply more lodging for tour and travel group and FIT business.
We continue to add more nonstop international flights to our growing catalog. Over the last three years, PDX has added London-Heathrow, Frankfurt, Reykjavik, Toronto, Guadalajara, and Mexico City to our nonstop service. Our Tokyo, Amsterdam, Calgary and Vancouver flights continue to be strong performers.
Last April, the Portland Japanese Garden completed a $33.5 million renovation which was designed by renowned Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma. The project includes a cultural village with five new garden spaces, a castle wall, cultural education center, bonsai terrace, and a courtyard that will host performances and events. While providing lots of additional experiences for the visitors, the garden has worked hard to preserve its tranquility.
2. What makes Portland a unique destination?
Portland offers many broad and unique offerings of tours. Visitors can learn about our local coffee scene with Third Wave Coffee Tours or discover one of the city’s 600 food carts with Forktown tours. Wildwood Adventures offers urban winery tours and America’s Hub World can show you Columbia River Gorge’s many waterfalls and trails. We’re pleased to say that all of them are working internationally and with receptive operators.
Our closeness to surrounding nature, which is a direct connection to Oregon’s strict urban growth boundary laws, that were enacted in 1973. We are very proud to have this protected land for our visitors and residents alike. Portland is just 90 minutes from the Oregon Coast, 30 minutes from the Columbia River Gorge, and 90 minutes from Mt. Hood, which has year-round skiing.
There is tax-free shopping throughout the entire state. There are only four other states in the country that can offer this to their visitors. Local makers, boutiques, outlet and upscale shopping centers make our region a huge shopping destination.
3. What are you most excited about attendees seeing/experiencing during the Summit?
Throughout the entirety of Summit, Travel Portland and our local partners are planning to immerse IITA attendees into our DIY and Makers’ culture. Our sightseeing tours will feature skiing on a volcano (Mt. Hood), shopping and visiting wineries in Oregon’s wine country, and an exclusive Makers’ Tour in urban Portland that takes attendees behind the scenes and into the studios of local artisans.
4. What international markets are of most interest to Portland and are most interested in the destination?
In the last year or so, our biggest success driving consumer demand has been in Japan, the Netherlands, Australia/New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Travel Portland’s primary markets and the countries we are very proactive in are Canada, Japan, China, United Kingdom, and Australia/New Zealand. In addition, Germany, France, the Netherlands, the Nordic Countries, South Korea and hopefully Mexico (with the addition of the new direct flight) are of great interest to Portland.
Portland’s increased investment now includes in-country representation in the UK, the Netherlands, Australia/New Zealand, and China, with Japan being added this fiscal year.
5. How do you support inbound tour operators in marketing and selling Portland?
Travel Portland’s international managers work one-on-one with many inbound operators and are in market working with international operators at least once a year. They keep clients up to date on all things Portland by attending trade shows, sales missions and events, and working on co-ops. As mentioned above, we have representatives who work with international tour operators year-round in market. We’ve also actively pursued opportunities to host important industry associations like IITA in Portland, to showcase our destination and to support you (IITA), the operators, and local Portland, Oregon, and national suppliers.
Join us in Portland for the 2018 IITA Summit!