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Tourism guides two entrepreneurs

Both businesses offer travel information for visitors and newcomers

Tourism is expected to bring in &

36;645 million to South Oregon's economy this year.

The industry accounts for one in every eight local jobs ' up from one in nine a decade ago. The Oregon Tourism Division reports that in Medford alone, revenue from travelers is expected to surpass &

36;275 million.

Among the Southern Oregonians hoping to tap into those tourism dollars are Lisa Matthews of Jacksonville and Cody Couch of Applegate.

One is a relative newcomer from Hillsboro, who wants to share the very things that attracted her to Jackson County. The other grew up going to Medford schools before military and teaching stints turned him into a world traveler for 17 years.

Matthews launched Southern Oregon Adventures, a guided-tour and hiking enterprise, last month. Couch began distributing Cody's Guide to Oregon's South Coast on CD-ROM April 1.

— National parks and monuments, historical sites and fashionable waysides are clogged with tour buses this time of year. But Matthews has an eye on a family-sized niche guiding visitors through Jackson County's historical back- country, wineries and trails.

I have always wanted to be a trekking guide or do something in the great outdoors, admits Matthews, who moved to the Rogue Valley two years ago. I found there weren't any tour companies like mine in the area.

She has hiked throughout the Northwest and traveled to Nepal in October 2000, where she visited the Mount Everest base camp.

She credits Jacksonville real estate agent Graham Farran with the idea and has accrued many an hour in the wild and at the Southern Oregon Historical Society to hone her knowledge of the area.

Matthews' Wine & Cheese Tour costs &

36;40 per person and includes stops in Jacksonville, Valley View Winery in Ruch and Rogue Creamery in Central Point. A second trip wanders along the Gin Lin Mining Trail and passes by McKee Covered Bridge.

Those adventures cost &

36;40 or &

36;75 per couple. A two-hour walking tour of Jacksonville is &

36;20. Matthews will customize tours on request.

While Matthews offers personal guidance, Couch's personal experience is the guide for those who purchase his CD-ROM for &

36;19.95.

Couch's endeavor weds his Internet marketing day-job to his passion for hiking with his wife and daughter.

His collection of images and maps, from Bullard's Beach on the north flank of the Coquille River to the California border, took two years to produce. The result is 23 detailed, printable maps and 1,100 photographs arranged geographically.

It was a case of putting my skills together with the things I enjoy, Couch says. Although most of the photos show the coast's pleasant side, he also captured stormy elements as well.

We found there were so many trails and beaches without signs, Couch says. I was taking pictures for some time before I formulated in my head that I should compile this document.

I've had people tell me that they haven't been to places like China Creek Beach in years and my CD-ROM has inspired them to go.

While most users will print out maps at home before leaving for the beach, travelers with laptops can use the guide on-site.

He says he's sold a few hundred copies of the CD-ROM, on sale at more than two-dozen outlets between Bandon and McKinleyville, Calif., and in the Rogue Valley.

I haven't really begun to tap into the inland market yet, he says.

Couch anticipates the second and third phases ' from Coos Bay to Newport and north coast ' could be done quickly. But it probably won't happen in rapid fashion.

I could do them in one year each, he says, If I had the time and didn't have to worry about paying the bills.

Jacksonville?s old city hall is reflected in Lisa Matthews? sunglasses during a recent tour of the city. The owner of Southern Oregon Adventures, she provides pre-set and custom Rogue Valley tour packages for her clients. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell