Dauphin County tops midstate tourism rankings yet again

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 10, 2016 4:49 PM

Street lights are shaped like Hershey Chocolate Kisses on Chocolate Avenue Friday, March 16, 2012 in Hershey, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(Harrisburg) -- Tourism in the midstate is big business, and Dauphin County has topped the list for yet another year

Visitors spent an estimated $2.3 billion in Dauphin County in 2014.

That's good enough for fourth in the state, behind Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and the Poconos.

But in the midstate, Lancaster isn't far behind Dauphin County and it's catching up, with more than $1.9 billion spent in 2014.

Rick Dunlap with the Hershey Harrisburg Visitors Bureau says Lancaster and other areas are trying to break free of stereotypes.

"Lancaster may get pigeonholed in a way of just being Amish, which they are so much more than that. Just as Gettysburg is maybe idealized as Civil War, but they have incredible agriculture," says Dunlap.

He adds: "Well I think our region is fourth in the state is because we are such an iconic, well-recognized brand."

Dunlap says even though Dauphin County is on top in the region, there's areas to improve, like with adult travelers and people looking for outside fun.

Joel Cliff with Discover Lancaster is confident they'll reach more people as well, after running a focus group.

"And now seeing the things that are of real interest to them, that they'll start to see, hey, there's more to Lancaster than what I thought."

Cliff says there are so many opportunities in both the county, and beyond.

"There's a lot of great stuff where people can come up and hopefully come for 3, 4, 5 days or even a week and be able to hub and spoke."

York finished 3rd in the region, at about $923 million in visitor spending, while Adams County - with Gettysburg - sat at $666 million.

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