“Here comes the sun” was the message as the successes and impact of the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce were celebrated Thursday, March 2, during the organization’s annual membership awards ceremony.

“What an incredible year it has been,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Court Carrier said at the event, held at the chamber’s North Spruce Street home.

Enjoying a spread of hors d’oeuvres and libations, about 50 members took part in the event, an opportunity to recognize a number of businesses and individuals for a job well done.

Carrier shared a report on the state of the tourism industry. Lodging tax collections have been “on a constant climb,” he said.

While the summer quarter in 2016 was only about 8 percent higher than the same quarter of 2015, the 2016 fall, winter and spring quarters were up 17 percent, 25 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

“That is a huge growth in business,” Carrier said. Speaking to the chamber members, he added, “You guys put that together. It’s everyone in town that made that happen, and it made the success of what Cannon Beach is today. So thank you all for the great job you have been doing. We have grown dramatically as a result of all of your efforts.”

Last year, the tourism industry in Cannon Beach brought in more than $3.8 million in total lodging taxes. The estimated direct economic impact of the industry was almost $123 million. Using “a conservative multiplier,” Carrier said, the estimated indirect impact was about $368 million.

Board member Kevin Ridgway, the chairman of the marketing committee, shared an update on the chamber’s goal to increase tourism, particularly during the winter, fall and spring.

“That’s the need times in Cannon Beach when we want to fill more of our empty rooms, generate more hotel taxes so the city can do more work for us as residents,” he said, adding, “that’s the focus of what we’re looking at.”

The marketing committee’s strategies for achieving that goal include expanding media awareness in the Portland and Seattle markets, making social media channels more robust and expanding digital marketing, to name a few.

In addition to bringing visitors to town, the chamber also aims to highlight the best of what Cannon Beach has to offer. One way it does so is through the annual Sandcastle Contest.

Debbie Nelson, who heads a committee of more than a dozen members and staff, said it is important for her “to carry on this hometown tradition that is very near and dear to my heart.”

On average, the contest brings about 30,000 visitors to Cannon Beach, requiring a large force of volunteers and sponsors.

“It’s great for advertising, maybe not just for that weekend, but for all year long, because a lot of people connect Cannon Beach with the Sandcastle Contest,” Nelson said. ‘I’m really glad we’re still doing Sandcastle all of these 53 years later.

Nelson unveiled the poster for this year’s competition and announced the date, June 17, although a parade will be held the day before and a 5K fun run and walk the day after.

Other important chamber events include the Stormy Weather Arts Festival in November and Haystack Holidays from mid-November through most of December.

Although January and February have been slow — “Mother Nature has not blessed us with the last two months,” Carrier said — chamber staff is optimistic about the potential of 2017.

“I saw the sun today and it was marvelous, and I’m really excited,” Carrier added.

2017 Winners:

Member of the Year: Beachcomber Vacation Homes

Volunteer of the Year: Buddie Anderson Deni

Supporter of the Year: Coaster Construction

Excellence in Customer Service: Maggie & Henry

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