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State to add tourist info to highway signs

Gas-Food-Lodging-Jet Boat Excursions.

The Oregon Travel Information Council soon will begin adding touristattraction notices to its roadside signs. Jet Boat Excursions in Rogue Riverwill be the first Jackson County business to get a freeway plaque.

That sign will go up near exit 48 of Interstate 5 on Aug. 20.

It's a good improvement, said Patti Bills, executive directorof the Medford Visitors and Convention Bureau. I appreciate knowingwhere things are.

Oregon is the second state in the nation to try tourist attraction signs,said Kim Brown, administrative manager with the Oregon Travel InformationCouncil. Kentucky was the first state, although others are participatingin the pilot program with fewer signs. Indiana, for example, soon will putin one sign.

Oregon has already determined at least five attractions for freeway signs,Brown said. Those include the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course in Portland andEnchanted Forest in Salem.

The travel council asked various tourism attractions to hand out commentcards to tourists. It granted sign space based on comments it received abouteach attraction.

More than 100 people sent in cards about Jet Boat Excursions, Brown said.

The council then looked at what each attraction offered tourists, shesaid. It decided Jet Boat Excursions is recreational and educational enoughto warrant a plaque. Also, most of its business comes from tourists, notlocals.

The state could expand the signs if the pilot projects are successful,Brown said.

Jackson County has plenty of attractions worthy of freeway notice, Billssaid: the Oregon Shakespeare Center, the Butte Creek Mill, the Oregon Vortexand the Southern Oregon History Center, for example.

If it's not put in their face, people just drive up I-5,she said. Especially in this area, where people don't realize whatthere is out here.