READING, PA – The Pennsylvania Office of Tourism recently released the Economic Impact of Travel & Tourism in Pennsylvania 2020. The annual study measures tourism spending in the Commonwealth’s 67 counties, reporting on five main categories of direct spending; Lodging, Food & Beverage, Retail, Recreation, and Transportation. Due to the in-depth analysis required to secure accurate numbers, the findings fall 18 months behind the current calendar year. Therefore, the newest compilation reveals the dollars spent by travelers to Berks County in 2020.
Since 2014, visitors’ direct spending has increased an average of $30 million per year in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region. Due to COVID-19’s debilitating impact on the hospitality industry, it is no surprise that visitor spending in Berks County dropped 30%, from $950.1 million in 2019 to $661.5 million in 2020. While the hospitality industry experienced losses in revenue and jobs, municipalities realized a decrease in tax dollars. The drop in traveler spending underscores tourism’s role as an economic driver for all communities.
On a brighter note, visitors still spent over $1.8 million per day in Berks County in 2020. The region’s 30% drop in travel revenue was far less than the 37% decrease in Pennsylvania’s tourism dollars. As stated by Crystal Seitz, President of Pennsylvania’s Americana Region,
“I am proud to be a part of Berks County’s hospitality industry. Our partners showed incredible strength, resilience, and imagination in the face of adversity. As the bureau worked to provide information and advocacy for the community, our partners and local businesses did whatever they could to remain open, keep staff employed, and meet the needs of the public. This was no small feat. Their success is everyone’s success.”
Another positive development resulting from the pandemic is that road trips have become a popular alternative to international and air travel. In 2020, Pennsylvania’s Americana Region’s Visitors Center welcomed an unprecedented number of road trippers to Berks County looking to enjoy the area’s many forms of outdoor recreation.
As COVID infections drop, all indicators show growing optimism around travel. The tourism and hospitality industries are adjusting to the new norms of travel. They are sure to rebound as Americans continue to value the experience of car travel, road-tripping, and discovering the wonders of locations like Reading and Berks County.