Using data from two types of surveys and the IMPLAN (IMpact analysis for PLANning) input-output model, we estimated the annual economic contributions of Oregon Sea Grant’s Visitor Center at Oregon State University’s (OSU) Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) in Newport. The Visitor Center attracts approximately 150,000 visitors a year, almost all of them from outside Lincoln County. The Center does not require an admission fee and provides an experience that is unique on the Oregon coast.
Thirty-nine percent of visitors surveyed indicated that half or more of their reason for coming to the Oregon coast was to visit the Visitor Center. Coincidentally, averaging the 131 visitors’ responses, 39 percent of their reason for visiting Lincoln County was to visit the Visitor Center.
The Visitor Center is supported primarily with federal and OSU funds, with some donations from visitors. The total annual cost to operate the Visitor Center is $460,000 in 2017 dollars. As estimated in this report, that $460,000 generates more than 10 times as much in economic effects, with $5.4 million in income, $9.7 million in sales, and 133 jobs for Lincoln County. Statewide, the Visitor Center generates $7.6 million in income, $13.2 million in sales, and 156 jobs.
These estimates should be useful for at least the next few years. In our anonymous survey, unlike most tourism studies, we asked survey participants to estimate how important the Visitor Center was in their decisions to travel to the Oregon coast. At every point where we were uncertain about visitors’ spending, we chose the conservative approach (e.g., excluding any economic effects for the 11,000 students and adults who visit each year as part of their school classes).
Photo by: Tiffany Woods