LIGONIER, Pa., (May 1, 2019) – In honor of the 36th annual National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau (LHVB), the destination marketing organization for Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland counties, encourages communities to celebrate what travel means to regional jobs, economic growth, personal well-being, and hometown pride.
“NTTW helps shine the light on our industry and we are proud of our impact as an economic driver for our region,” said Ann Nemanic, Executive Director of the LHVB. “In 2018, the Laurel Highlands saw an increase in lodging occupancy of 8.34% and a corresponding revenue increase of 9.17%. The first three months of 2019 are seeing double-digit increases for the first time. Our winter sports and festivals are significant enticements to visitors. Occupancy saw an uptick of 11.2% compared to last year with revenue increasing by 12%. To begin a year in this manner, we hope, is a sign of a strong tourist season for the remainder of the year.”
The theme of this year’s NTTW, “Travel Matters,” highlights the innumerable ways in which travel makes up the fabric of the Laurel Highlands’ culture and economy. Each day of NTTW will celebrate a different facet of travel: the economy, new experiences, jobs, infrastructure, health benefits, hometown pride, and how travel strengthens families.
Across Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, travel employs a prosperous and diverse workforce, from hotel employees to restaurant, attraction and retail workers, and supports related sectors such as construction, manufacturing, and finance. According to the data from the 2017 edition of “The Economic Impact of Travel in Pennsylvania”:
- Travelers spent $1.822 billion in Laurel Highlands, second highest year on record
- $1.837 billion in 2014
- A 3.5% increase over 2016
- 11.6% or 14,878 jobs supported by travel and tourism in the Laurel Highlands
- Fayette County: $684.8 million in 2017, up $23.3 million from 2016.
- Somerset County: $392 million in 2017, an increase of $14.7 million from 2016.
- Westmoreland County: $745.4 million in 2017, up $24.3 million from 2016.
- $99.6 million in state and local taxes; $91.5 million in federal taxes
“We know that tourism is woven so closely into the fabric of our communities,” added Nemanic. “It is critically important that we continue to provide an exemplary experience for visitors with our kindness and hospitality. Our market base is expanding. We see strong Canadian and international visitors exploring our tourism assets. That’s not by accident, it is by the efforts of the LHVB engaging in opportunities to share the Laurel Highlands as a destination of choice. “
Throughout the week, visitors to the PA Welcome Centers along Interstate 70 in Warfordsburg and Interstate 79 in Mt. Morris will be greeted by LHVB representatives, a colorful regional display, and a wealth of information and resources about the Laurel Highlands tourism offerings.
Followers of the LHVB’s social media channels will enjoy a diverse social media campaign showcasing the Laurel Highlands' most Instagram-worthy spots, sharing the story of regional tourism entrepreneurs and creative and helpful themed itineraries, and more.
About Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands
A magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located an hour’s drive east of Pittsburgh, the beautiful four-season destination offers spectacular natural scenery, outstanding outdoor recreation, historic sites and attractions, family activities, and world-class resorts. Notable destinations within the region include four architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater®, Kentuck Knob, Mäntylä and Duncan House – Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone, whitewater rafting at Ohiopyle State Park, and more.
Located within 200 miles of the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Washington D.C., the Laurel Highlands can be easily accessed from exits 67, 75, 91 and 110 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Visitors to the Laurel Highlands can find information online at www.LaurelHighlands.org, calling 724.238.5661, www.facebook.com/laurelhighlandsPA and www.twitter.com/laurelhighlands. Established in 1958, the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.