Klamath Falls community leaders have set their sights on a tourism promotion effort they hope will bring visitors to their city on the way to Oregon's only national park. They've landed a grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation, and even renamed the Klamath Regional Airport the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport.
The aim is to brand Klamath Falls as "the gateway to Crater Lake," according to officials there.
No offense to the good people of Klamath Falls, but they have some catching up to do. There is a reason, after all, that the Rogue Valley boasts a high school named Crater. Then there is the Craterian Theater, which has stood for decades in downtown Medford, not to mention at least 20 businesses listed in the phone book with Crater or Crater Lake in their names. Many carry that name because they are situated on Crater Lake Avenue in our fair city.
Oh, and did we mention the highway also known as 62? That would be Crater Lake Highway, leading as it does from the general vicinity of the Medford airport directly to Crater Lake.
Klamath-area boosters say they want to put more passengers in airplane seats and heads in hotel beds by promoting their town as the gateway. Those seats will be scarce unless they can convince United Express — the only airline serving Klamath Falls — to add to its two airplanes a day: one from Portland, one from San Francisco.
Or perhaps they hope to attract another airline. We hope they do; growth in air travel there would benefit the entire region. But we're not holding our breath.
Medford, meanwhile, has four carriers offering 28 arriving flights a day from Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, plus several smaller cities in between.
Now, we're the first to admit our own airport has engaged in its share of hype. But adding "Crater Lake" to the Klamath airport sign makes about as much sense as renaming ours "Rogue Valley International."
It is true that the driving distance from Medford to Crater Lake National Park is slightly longer than the trip from Klamath Falls — about 20 miles longer, to be exact. But we're not sure many travelers will choose to land in Klamath Falls just to save 20 or 30 minutes' driving time.
We wish our Klamath Falls neighbors all the best in their new endeavor, but we gently suggest that the gateway question was settled long ago.