Yesterday, Hopewell Furnace in Elverson, PA hosted Congressman Ryan Costello (R, PA-6) for a Travel Talks roundtable. The Congressman met with local and statewide travel and tourism leaders including representatives from the state tourism office, Harrisburg and Lehigh Valley Airports, and the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association.
Crystal Seitz of Pennsylvania’s Americana Region, the local convention and visitor’s bureau, chaired the meeting and helped lead the discussion on a variety of travel and tourism issues. To start the discussion, Deputy Secretary Carrie Lepore from the Pennsylvania Tourism Office spoke to the statewide economic impact and touched on the ROI the tourism industry provides. She mentioned research that stated 77% of out-of-state residents who were served a state tourism related ad, came to PA within 30 days.
Lepore emphasized the importance of Brand USA to Pennsylvania, since the state can no longer afford to market itself in international markets. The group also talked about how domestic travel promotion helps turn visitors into eventual residents and can help grow the state’s economic base.
The representatives from Harrisburg and Lehigh Valley airports continued the discussion and spent time stressing the need to raise the cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC). They discussed local issues the airports are experiencing, such as wildlife management and purchasing firetrucks, and how the airports could use the funds from a PFC cap raise. Both cited a need for airports to be financially self-sufficient and not to depend on federal subsidies.
The discussion also covered international visitation, citing Harrisburg’s 80,000 international visitors, many for business. The group spoke to the importance of welcoming international visitors and making it easy for them to come to Pennsylvania. Finally, the group touched on state rail system, National Parks, building tourism partnerships across the state, and the unique aspects of Pennsylvania that need to be highlighted to attract more tourists.
Thank you to Congressman Costello for attending this roundtable and your support of the travel and tourism industry.