The Importance of a Thriving Downtown for Tourism

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Visitors to a region or city can get a good feel for a community from its downtown. Unique boutiques, one-of-a-kind shops, diversity of local performing and visual art, a mixture of restaurants, combined with outstanding architecture, history and festive events and promotions, characterize a successful downtown. Visitors are attracted to downtowns such as this and Salem’s downtown fits that illustration perfectly. Successful downtowns are viewed as a destination in their own right. Travel Salem’s Visitor Profile study points out that downtown Salem is viewed as a leading activity during a visitors stay.

Traditionally, a downtown serves as a town square or hub for community gatherings; known for its sense of welcome and hospitality. Although unique shops and promotions are available in other shopping venues, the downtown atmosphere cannot be duplicated.

The distinct look and feel of Salem’s downtown core is created by the richness of its history. The Historic Elsinore Theater, a 1926 Tudor Gothic movie palace, and the Reed Opera House, are examples of the significance of historical entities in a thriving downtown community.

As Salem’s living room, historic downtown is a vibrant downtown with all the elements needed to maintain its “destination” status. With its inviting atmosphere and coordinated events such as First Wednesday, downtown Salem introduces visitors to the distinctiveness of Salem and encourages the consideration of what the rest of this region has to offer.

Downtown Salem is the focus of Salem Vision 2020, a community-wide team, chaired by Mayor Janet Taylor, that works to shape the future of Salem’s City Center. The foresight of Vision 2020 is to transform Salem’s downtown into a vibrant, year-round regional destination for employees, visitors, and residents by the year 2020.

With its current amenities, development, revitalization and community involvement, downtown Salem will continue to be one of the region’s major destinations.

~ Angie Morris, Travel Salem’s CEO

* Originally printed in Statesman Journal, 3/22/09