The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) released its 2022 Annual Report highlighting the positive economic impact of the hospitality industry in Montgomery County, at its first annual in-person luncheon in three years.
Under the theme “Forge Ahead”, the report shares an “optimistic outlook for tourism” in the county, according to a press release, pointing to levels close to those the industry experienced before the pandemic.
According to the agency, tourism continues to be a key driver of the economy. In 2021, visitor spending in the county generated $1.4 billion in positive economic impact. That’s a 46% increase, or $443 million, from 2020, and also less than $200 million from 2019 levels, according to Tourism Economics.
“We are regaining ground in the right direction and seeing positive momentum,” Mike Bowman, president and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, said in a statement. “I am so proud of how the VFTCB staff have overcome the odds to support our hoteliers and our entire tourism industry in Montco. Their commitment to creativity is incredible, and it’s one of the many reasons Montgomery County continues to lead and outperform the region.
The number of room nights booked also rebounded to 1.9 million last year, and room revenue returned to $206 million, the agency reported, which topped the Philadelphia area and periodically topped monthly figures from 2019. Visitors also supported more than 17,000 jobs in Montgomery County, according to Tourism Economics.
So far this year, Montgomery County leads suburban counties with an average daily rate of $126.76. The county’s year-end projected revenue — $250.7 million — is just below the 2019 level of $253.8 million.
According to Smith Travel Research, hotel demand and the economic impact of the industry for the county are expected to increase and are expected to exceed 2019 levels by mid-year, with record highs expected in 2023 and beyond.
The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board Sports Team announced that 2022 will feature 100 events producing more than 85,000 total room nights, generating $65 million in positive economic impact. This represents a 14% year-over-year increase and 20% more than pre-pandemic levels, according to Lisa Karl, vice president of sales and strategic partnerships at the Tourism and Conventions Council of ValleyForge.
The annual October 28 luncheon, held at the Sheraton Valley Forge in Upper Merion, was attended by over 400 attendees.
During the event, the agency announced the Paul Decker & Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board Hospitality Scholarship Fund through the Montgomery County Community College Foundation. The new scholarship was announced by Jake Markezin, Vice President of Operations and Paul Decker, former President and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board.
Beginning in 2023, the $20,000 endowed scholarship will be awarded to a Montgomery County resident who is in financial need and has good academic standing, to pursue a degree in hospitality management or culinary arts.
Guest speaker and two-time Olympic soccer gold medalist Carli Lloyd spoke about moving forward by overcoming obstacles on and off the field, being a woman in sports, and giving advice for young people.
The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board’s Marketing and Communications team reported on several items, including:
• Plans for a new way to enjoy county breweries, wineries and distilleries through the Montco Makers Passport.
• Data-driven marketing plans, such as flying banners to more than 12 million people from Atlantic City to Cape May, NJ and sponsorship of weather cameras on NBC 10 and FOX 29.
• A redesign of valleyforge.org to provide easy-to-find inspirational content, interactive maps, easy booking options, and priority videos and things to do – to help raise awareness and increase attendance at attractions, hotels, restaurants and county events.
• Continued restaurant support with Crave Montco month in July. This year’s event generated 23,000 website visits, a 485% increase, according to a press release.
• Ongoing support for arts and culture with Arts Montco Week & Jazz Fest in September, as well as dozens of diverse local artists on all three Arts Montco Walls at the King of Prussia Mall, Philadelphia Premium Outlets and Charles Blockson Black History Exhibition at the Center Theater in Norristown.
The Valley Forge Convention and Tourism Board reported that its social followers have grown to over 180,000 with 2.5 million video views and 22 million impressions.