Governor Wolf Announces Unprecedented Investment to Boost the Tourism Industry

December 14, 2021

Wolf Administration to dedicate more than $17 million in American Rescue Plan Act Funding for Marketing and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs to jumpstart tourism recovery

Governor ​Tom Wolf announced ​today that the ​commonwealth will receive a $17 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) to buoy the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors as part of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the commonwealth to make transformative investments that will have a lasting impact on travel and tourism industry now and for decades to come,” Gov. Wolf said. “We know through research that inviting those to travel to and around Pennsylvania through tourism marketing and advertising in the short term will be the shot in the arm this industry so desperately needs.”

After consulting with tourism partners across the state and colleagues around the nation, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office at the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will invest the $17,086,197 ​in the following ways:

  • $10 million to dramatically increase ​the PA Tourism Cooperative Marketing Advertising Program in 2022 and 2023 to create advertising opportunities for destination marketing organizations and industry associations by matching or possibly doubling their investment.
  • To attract new visitors and residents to Pennsylvania the office will invest $6.8 million in new initiatives that will promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in marketing, messaging​, and product development to capture greater market share and, most importantly, in our approach to how we welcome travelers to the commonwealth leaving a positive impact on the industry for decades to come; and
  • To protect our outdoor recreation assets that have historically experienced overcrowding, $250,000 will support the Outdoor Recreation Concierge Program via the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to train front-line workers and volunteers aimed at promoting the outdoor experiences of a region, with an emphasis on underutilized, hidden natural gems. 

“While the advertising investment will produce results in real time boosting our tourism economy, creating jobs, and generating millions of additional tax dollars, we intend for our DEI efforts to be transformative for generations to come,” said Carrie Fischer Lepore, deputy secretary, Office of Marketing, Tourism, and Film at DCED. “Drawing new visitors to Pennsylvania and ensuring they feel welcome and that they belong will not just grow the tourism economy but influence people’s perception of Pennsylvania as a destination to visit, a place to grow a business, a community to call home, and a state to feel proud of.”

Lepore outlined the DEI investment:

  • $1 million – To create a groundbreaking industry training program for frontline workers and tourism industry leadership that ensures every traveler, regardless of race, gender, age, ability, and background, feels welcome, respected, and included when visiting Pennsylvania;
  • $500,000 – To develop a new statewide tourism product to provide more diverse and inclusive experiences to travelers;
  • $1.5 million – For tourism partner product development grants;
  • $ 3.8 million – To develop new marketing campaigns to reach a more diverse and inclusive travel consumer. This would be done through contracting with agencies owned or led by those from various diverse communities.

“The Biden Administration is pleased to provide state and territory leaders with the resources to build back better through locally led strategies that uniquely address the challenges and opportunities of their local travel tourism and outdoor recreation industry,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “We applaud the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion programs to boost tourism and look forward to seeing how this vital funding will move its critical travel tourism and outdoor recreation industry forward.”

The $17 million awarded to Pennsylvania was part of $510 million directed through EDA’s Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation program​, which is focused on accelerating the recovery of communities that rely on the travel, tourism and outdoor recreation sectors.

The Pennsylvania Tourism Office, under the Department of Community and Economic Development, is dedicated to inspiring travel to Pennsylvania as the state’s official destination marketing organization. Pennsylvania welcomed 204 million visitors in 2019, creating a $46 billion economic impact which supports 500,000 jobs. For more information, go to the visitPA website. or sign up for our Happy Thoughts newsletter, become a fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, check out photos on Instagram, share pins on Pinterest, or watch us on Youtube.

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