The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the tourism industry on the Oregon Coast and throughout the state: more than 80% of the county’s 2,350 tourism employees have lost their jobs; hotels have locked their doors; most restaurants’ kitchens sit idle, except for the few doing takeout; charter boat companies have empty boats; retail stores are closed unless they have an online sales channel.
And yet, despite these hardships, tourism businesses continue to serve their communities in generous ways. This is a short list of the outpouring of support coming from restaurants and hotels; many more are helping locals in their time of need.
In north county, Manzanita grocery stores Little Apple and Fresh Foods, both reliant on visitor spending, have a donation fund for those having difficulty buying groceries for their families. Cloud & Leaf bookstore started a gift certificate program to distribute books to local families.
In central county, Fishpeople Seafood in Garibaldi donated 1,200 cases of seafood products, such as salmon jerky to school districts wherever they have stores, including Tillamook.
Pacific Restaurant in Tillamook has given away $200 worth of gift cards every week since closing in mid-March. All they ask is you share a photo of their takeout food on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #isupportedsmallbusiness.
And in south county, the Grateful Bread in Pacific City is doing a “Grateful Grub” program. Meals are served through drive up and are free to those we need it, or a donation can be made from those who can purchase a meal. In addition to serving up to 75 meals a day, Grateful Bread is also making donations to the Beaver Food Pantry.
The Pelican Pub and Kiwanda Hospitality businesses in Pacific City received funds from the Pacific City Nestucca Valley Chamber, plus a refund from advertising placed in the 2020 Tillamook Coast visitor guide. They paid it all forward to the local food bank, a donation of more than $5,000. And that’s not all. With the vast majority of their 400 employees furloughed, Kiwanda Hospitality keeps them, and their families, fed with a hot meal seven days a week.
“Generosity and kindness have always been a hallmark of the hospitality and tourism industry,” said Nan Devlin, tourism director for Visit Tillamook Coast. “In good times and bad, that remains true here in Tillamook County.”