by Edward Harris, President & CEO of Discover Lancaster
Tourism is one of the leading industries in Lancaster County, an important source of tax revenues, and a key economic development tool.
It produces more than $3 billion in total economic impact annually, and we expect that to continue & increase in the coming years.
Industry investments in attractions and amenities serve the traveling public, enhance the quality of life of area residents, and produce growth in other sectors of our economy.
Hundreds of companies in Lancaster County benefit from travel and tourism through their direct interaction with visitors at places like attractions, restaurants, shops, gas stations and lodging properties. But these benefits also ripple outward to businesses in the industry’s supply chain, such as farmers, printers, builders, cleaning suppliers, landscapers…the list goes on and on.
When people travel, they spend money, whether it’s a family vacation, bus trip or annual convention. This spending directly translates into sales for Lancaster County businesses, jobs for Lancaster County residents and crucial tax revenue for our county and local governments.
Still, past success doesn’t guarantee future results.
Our area features many aspects that dovetail with increasing visitor interest in intergenerational & multi-family travel and in getaways that allow folks to unplug a bit, slow down, & rejuvenate.
But this current advantage cannot be sustained, let alone grow, without continual product development – fresh attractions, experiences, tours, and more that bring both repeat business and new guests. We need to encourage and enable innovation in our local travel sector if we’re to keep expanding the tourism pie.
Equally if not more important, we need to invest in workforce development for our industry. This issue remains an acute one for hospitality, with employee count still significantly down from pre-pandemic levels.
Tourism properties are doing their very best with this situation right now, trying to minimize guest impacts but also wanting to maintain operational standards.
And many area businesses have put employee incentives in place, including pay raises & signing bonuses, and are highlighting the schedule flexibility, HR benefits, and career advancement that hospitality jobs can offer.
The underlying economic & societal trends that have led to this moment in time, however, will take committed and long-term initiatives to build back the number of available workers in our sector.
Nevertheless, the business of fun and enjoyment has always attracted smart, energetic people, and we feel confident it will continue to do so into the future.
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Discover Lancaster is the official destination marketing organization for Lancaster County tourism.
Check out the Discover Lancaster’s Year-In-Review 2022.
President & CEO
This article was first printed in our December 2022 Edition of Thriving Magazine. You can read more here: Lancaster Chamber Thriving Magazine