Tourism generates about $10B for southwestern Pennsylvania economy
Tourists taking in the numerous sites in Southwestern Pennsylvania — from the Laurel Highlands to Pittsburgh’s three rivers — added about $10 billion to the economy two years ago.
Tourists’ spending added nearly $8.2 billion to the economy in Allegheny and surrounding counties in 2017, while tourism dollars added about $1.8 billion to the economy in the Laurel Highlands, according to The Economic Impact of Travel in Pennsylvania. Both regions saw an increase in spending over 2016.
In conjunction with the National Travel and Tourism Week that begins Sunday, Ann Nemanic, executive director of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, pointed out the importance of tourism, not only for the economy, but for personal well-being and hometown pride. The Ligonier-based visitors bureau is the state-designated marketing organization for Westmoreland, Fayette and Somerset counties.
The Laurel Highlands saw an increase last year in lodging occupancy of 8.3% in 2018 and a corresponding jump of 9.2 percent in revenue.
“The first three months of 2019 are seeing double-digit increases for the first time,” Nemanic said.
Winter sports and festivals are a significant enticement to visitors, Nemanic said. Occupancy rose by 11.2% compared to 2018, with revenue rising by 12% during the winter months.
“To begin a year in this manner, we hope, is a sign of a strong tourist season for the remainder of the year,” she added.
“We know that tourism is woven so closely into the fabric of our communities,” added Nemanic.
Pittsburgh and its Countryside — Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Lawrence and Washington Counties, accounted for almost 19% of all tourism dollars spent in the state in 2017, according to the 2017 edition of “The Economic Impact of Travel in Pennsylvania.” The Laurel Highlands saw 4.2% of the state’s tourism dollars spent there.
Other stats from the “The Economic Impact of Travel in Pennsylvania”:
For Laurel Highlands:
• 11.6% or 14,878 jobs supported by travel and tourism in the Laurel Highlands
• Fayette County: $684.8 million spent in 2017, up $23.3 million from 2016.
• Somerset County: $392 million spent in 2017, a $14.7 million increase from 2016.
• Westmoreland County: $745.4 million spent in 2017, up $24.3 million from 2016.
For Pittsburgh and Its Countryside:
• 8.8 percent of the region’s jobs supported by tourism.
• Allegheny County: $6.1 billion, up from $5.9 billion in 2016.
• Armstrong County: $92.4 million, up from $88.9 million in 2016.
• Butler: $593.7 million, up from $592.1 million in 2016.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .