News

Rate of tourism jobs low in Pa. But, industry says don't blame the destinations

Written by Joel Shannon/York Daily Record | Jul 13, 2017 12:30 PM
mike_fox_civil_war_music.jpg

Mike Fox, of Mechanicsburg, gets ready to perform Saturday Aug. 15, 2015 at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center with the band The Susquehanna Travellers during the 20th annual Gettysburg Music Muster in Gettysburg.(Photo: File)

 

(Undated) -- Despite being a large industry that employs more than 200,000 people, Pennsylvania tourism creates jobs at some of the lowest rates in the nation, according to 2015 data from the U.S. Travel Association.

In Pennsylvania, only 4.5 percent of private jobs are created by tourism, putting the state in the lowest 10 percent in the U.S. The national average is about 8 percent, and top tourism states Hawaii and Nevada see about one-third of their states' private jobs created by tourism. 

After a spike in 2012, the growth rate in Pennsylvania tourism has fallen behind the national average, according to David Huether, senior vice president for research at the U.S. Travel Association.

But don't blame the destinations, say members of the industry.

The commonwealth's diverse economy makes it hard for travel to take up a large chunk of the economy, Huether said.

"Pennsylvania's economy is far more diverse than states like Hawaii and Nevada where tourism is by far the largest economic force," Michael Gerber, deputy communications director for Pennsylvania's Department of Community & Economic Development, wrote in an emailed statement.

Pennsylvania has "every kind of tourist destination you could want," said John Longstreet, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association. The problem from his perspective: With a shoestring marketing budget from the state, fewer people know about those destinations.

A report sponsored by members of the Pennsylvania tourism industry points to state funding cuts as a struggle for the industry.

"The Case for Tourism Funding" claims that since 2009, the state has cut $125 million from the tourism marketing budget. The report says cuts resulted in a loss of $7.7 billion in visitor spending.

It says that, at 2015 levels, Pennsylvania's travel marketing budget is last in the nation relative to industry size. 

"Over the past six years, cuts to the tourism marketing budget have caused our great commonwealth to lose more than 37 million visitors," Carrie Lepore told the Pennsylvania House Tourism Committee in June.

"Every dollar 'saved' on marketing has actually cost the state $3.60 in state tax revenue," she said.

Longstreet says history shows that when Pennsylvania spends appropriately for its size, the travel industry grows to also be appropriate for the size of the state.

Even though travel accounts for a lower percentage of jobs in Pennsylvania than average, the industry itself is still large.

U.S. Travel Association data says that travelers in Pennsylvania spent $25 billion in 2015. That puts Pennsylvania in the top 10 states in the nation for traveler spending.

Longstreet credits strong marketing efforts at the local level and the residual effects of Pennsylvania's previously strong marketing efforts.

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

Published in News

Tagged under , , , , , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »