Pennsylvania Business Leaders Come Together to Boost State Tourism

Pennsylvania tourism should receive a boost in the coming months following the formation of a new Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership steering committee. The committee aims to guide the future of tourism in the state.

Sixteen members of the planned 17-person committee have already been selected, and include Patrick Ryan, the sales director of the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, and Brandon Igdalsky, president and CEO of Pocono Raceway. Representatives from Longwood Gardens, PNC Financial Services and the Pittsburgh Pirates will also be included in the committee, among others.

The selection of group members was designed to combine the expertise of professionals from both public and private sectors to promote Pennsylvania as a major tourism destination.

“We’re from different industries and all different parts of the state, so I think it’s good,” Ryan told LVB.com. “We’re lucky to have the group that we have.”

Members and organizers of the committee pointed out that statewide tourism is usually managed and promoted by the Office of Travel, Tourism and Film, under the Department of Community and Economic Development. According to Igdalsky, this meant that efforts fell to the wayside every time a new governor was elected, and tourism budgets faced heavy cuts.

“Every year they’re cutting dollars and they’re missing out on money that would have been spent here because people are forgetting about Pennsylvania,” he told LVB.com. He also pointed out that Ohio spends $11 million on tourism a year compared to Pennsylvania’s $3 million. “Tourism in Pennsylvania has really taken a beating in recent years.”

According to Ryan, one of the committee’s first initiatives will be to request proposals for marketing plans and strategies to generate more interest in Pennsylvania tourism. “What we want is a marketing plan that will go for the long haul and really last,” he said, citing the iconic “I love New York” tourism campaign as an ideal example.

Moving forward, the partnership will seek to find better funding sources for tourism promotion and push selected marketing plans. If the state plans to compete, they’ll likely need to reach out on the web as well. Websites increase sales by improving the image of a company and brand, and they can do the same for states.

“After nearly 25 years of the tourism industry exploring a variety of approaches to marketing, Pennsylvania is on the verge of making history,” DCED Secretary C. Alan Walker told IVB.com. “The creation of a steering committee was an essential first step for the partnership toward strengthening the commonwealth’s tourism brand and marketing and achieving greater continuity.”

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