Happy New Year, Seaside! Turning over a fresh calendar always represents the opportunity for something new to happen. It may be minor or it could become monumental. Often, it’s the result of something that happened in the past, but could also be something few, if any, saw coming. If you’ve read my column for a while you know that I have utilized this January space since 2012 to look back, while also looking ahead. Without further ado, here’s the 2017 rendition, recapping 2016 and looking ahead to 2017.

At the onset of 2016, we had just unveiled a new look for our marketing materials. We were set to showcase a new visitor guide and were just a month away from unleashing a new website. We built a branding toolkit for businesses, as well as a merchandise guide that incorporated our new colors, iconography and photography. We also set our sights on new town signage that incorporates the same color palette and branded look that we advertise to those looking for a vacation in Seaside.

In looking ahead at 2016, I suggested that emergency preparedness would become a hotter topic and people would feel more comfortable talking about it. To some degree, that did transpire. The annual Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism had a session dedicated to the topic and I believe more conversations are happening. This isn’t just about the “big one” either. Fires, flooding, and even a tornado — as Manzanita unfortunately experienced — are also possibilities that can change things in an instant. It’s never too early to prepare.

Feb. 5, 2016, is a day our town and area will not soon forget. And we shouldn’t. We lost an incredible individual in Seaside Police Sergeant Jason Goodding that evening. What I’ll also always remember from that tragic week is how our community came together, worked together and shared so much compassion for one another. Let’s not us forget that feeling either.

This was a hot topic in 2015 and 2016, but due to its magnitude, it also makes the list in 2017. Late in 2016, city leaders voted to officially expand the 22,000-square-foot Seaside Convention Center. From start to finish, design work and construction, this should be a 24-month process. Things will get going later this year and it should be a fun process to be a part of.

The nation’s first travel information center opened on May 4, 1935, in New Buffalo, Michigan, along US Highway 12. Seaside’s current information center opened in the early 1980s, moving from a location near present-day Norma’s Seafood and Steak. Clearly, much has changed in the 80 years since visitor centers started popping up. I believe there is more we can do for folks who solely rely on information in their pockets and phones. And part of that will be continuing to look at improved signage (mentioned above) as a means to building more awareness.

In late 2016, the Seaside Visitors Bureau learned it would be receiving a grant of almost $13,000 from Clatsop County. The money comes from county lodging tax — 70 percent of which must be used for tourism promotion. We’ll use the funds to create inviting and exciting new videos to further promote Seaside as a fun place to visit.

Have a thought or a question about tourism in Seaside, or maybe an idea for a future column? Drop me an email at jrahl@cityofseaside.us. Jon Rahl is the director of tourism for the Seaside Visitors Bureau and assistant general manager of the Seaside Civic & Convention Center.

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