Governor appoints OBRA Director Kenji Sugahara to Tourism Commission

Governor appoints OBRA Director Kenji Sugahara to Tourism Commission


Sugahara spoke out during a community forum
on safety issues on Skyline Blvd in 2011.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has appointed Kenji Sugahara to a seat on the Oregon Tourism Commission. The nine-member commission, better known by its business name of Travel Oregon, manages the state’s $9.6 billion tourism industry.

Sugahara, 41, lives in West Salem and became the executive director of the 5,000 member Oregon Bicycle Racing Association in 2008. Sugahara is also a member of the Oregon Scenic Bikeway Committee and is a board member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

According to Travel Oregon CEO Todd Davidson, Sugahara was picked specifically because of his experience with cycling in Oregon (OBRA promotes and sanctions around 400 events annually in every corner of the state). “We are pleased to welcome Kenji to the Oregon Tourism Commission,” Davidson said in an official statement, “the Governor has selected someone who brings not only a cycling perspective to the commission, but experience with rural Oregon, international media and transportation issues.”

Travel Oregon takes cycling seriously in part because a recent study they commissioned showed bicycle-related travel accounts for $400 million in annual economic impacts to the state of Oregon.

Sugahara is the only person on the commission with direct ties to bicycling and one of only two other members that do not represent the hotel industry (not surprising, given that Travel Oregon is funded by a 1% statewide lodging tax).

In his new role, Sugahara will help set Travel Oregon policy and steer their strategic plans. This should come naturally for someone like Sugahara who has the experience and passion to do the job well. In March 2012, he took his message of bikenomic development directly to Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley during lobby day at the National Bike Summit and he has worked hard to connect the disparate worlds of commuting and advocacy with the racing scene.

Learn more about Sugahara in an audio interview we published last year and in this 2011 profile in the Salem Statesman-Journal.

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