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Washington County Pennsylvania, which is home to some of the country’s finest historical, entertainment and cultural attractions, continues to be a leader in the southwestern Pennsylvania region in tourism and economic growth according to a recent report.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development’s report entitled2018 Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism in Pennsylvania firmly placed Washington County, PA second in the Greater Pittsburgh Region in significant tourism impact categories such as Traveler Spending, Travel Industry Employment and Overall Travel Industry Impacts. The county also saw increases in individual tourism categories such as Lodging, Food & Beverage, Shopping and Recreation.

According to the report, direct traveler spending in Washington County in 2018 was approximately $737.3 million-up from $703.7 million in 2017. This represented a nearly five percent increase in traveler spending over the prior year. The report also stated that Washington County’s tourism industry employed6,000 people in 2018 generating $204.1 million in labor income which are also increases over the prior year. These impressive statistics allow Washington County to rank as the second highest (after Allegheny County) in traveler spending, tourism employment and overall travel impacts among counties in the eight county Greater Pittsburgh Region. These travel industry impacts also generated nearly $44.4 million in state and local tax revenue. And of course, this overall tourism activity continues to drive business and promote Washington County’s high quality of life.

Across the region travelers spent nearly $8.5 billion in 2018 – a new record high and a 3.9 percent increase from2017. The region once again had the third highest level of traveler spending among the state’s 11tourism regions. The complete study can be found at https://www.visitpa.com/economic-impact-travel-report.

According to Diana Irey Vaughan, Chairman of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, the study confirms that tourism is a major economic driver in the county. “The strength of Washington County’s economy is in its diversity and our emphasis on developing our tourism industry contributes to our overall economic success. This study demonstrates that the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency (WCTPA), county government, private sector and our tourism partners are achieving positive impacts in growing our tourism economy and the jobs that support it,” Irey Vaughan stated.

Larry Maggi, Vice Chairman of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, stressed the importance of tourism messaging for the county. “Tourism is a business and as we continually refine our tourism messaging and promotion as well as identify our customers, we find that more and more travelers are interested in history, food, gaming, recreation, shopping and other unique experiences. Our success in promoting interest in these areas is evident in this study and we are looking forward to further economic expansion of the industry,” Maggi commented.

Washington County Commissioner Nick Sherman noted the importance of sustained investment in marketing and capital in the county’s efforts to attract visitors. “The county commissioners and WCTPA are providing resources to increase our marketing and advertising as well as investing in capital improvements for our tourism assets. In fact, the WCTPA has increased its tourism grant program from an annual process to now three times a year. These resources are improving our tourism efforts and assets as well as increasing the positive economic impacts of the industry,” stated Sherman.

Jeff M. Kotula, President of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Promotion Agency, highlighted the strength of tourism’s partners in driving the county’s tourism success. “While these economic impacts are impressive, the success of our tourism industry is not driven by one organization, attraction, social media site or even billboard. It is the result of countless partnerships comprised of our tourism assets, county commissioners, hoteliers, businesses, non-profit groups and dedicated volunteers-all working together to create a thriving tourism and travel economy in Washington County,” Kotula commented.  

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