Back to list May 25, 2016Tourism part of winning economic strategyBy Valerie Copenhaver Director of Marketing, Cumberland Area Economic Development CorporationIn 2015, the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) contracted with North Star Destinations to conduct consumer perception, visitor conversion and ROI studies that led to a better understanding of the impact of CAEDC and tourism and economic development to this area.CAEDC’s uniquely integrated tourism and economic development functionality powerfully steers growth, job creation, and the quality of life in the Cumberland Valley area.Economic Impact of TourismIn terms of its tourism development efforts, CAEDC has promoted the Cumberland Valley region as a leisure and business travel destination, rich in history, outdoor recreation and auto shows, attracting visitors to the area. The millions of dollars that are funneled into the local economy, as a result of visitor spending, supports local businesses and 6,215 jobs and lessens the tax burden on our local residents. Other impressive statistics from the research include:Cumberland Valley had over 1.8 million visitors come in 2014 who made over 2 million tripsVisitors generated $774 million in economic activity with nearly $250 million being from visitors engaged with CAEDCCumberland Valley ranked 13th out of 67 counties for visitor spendingNearly half of these visitors indicated that marketing efforts by CAEDC had directly influenced them to visitBased on survey results, for every dollar invested in the Cumberland Valley destination marketing budget, there is an ROI of $95 in direct tourism spendingVisitors rated their trips at a mean of 7.9 out of 10, a high score for overall satisfaction, and indicated that they were very likely to return and to recommend Cumberland ValleyEach of the 96,906 Cumberland County households would pay $441 more in taxes without the tax revenue generated by the tourism industry in Cumberland CountySince 2005, the number of private sector leisure and hospitality businesses employing five or more people increased from 502 to 567, representing a net gain of 65 new companiesLodging Industry UpdateThe research also unveiled positive results regarding the lodging industry in Cumberland Valley. In 2015, Cumberland Valley Hotels saw increases over the previous year in terms of:Total Room Nights: 897,784, increased by 10.7%.Occupancy: 57.3%, increased by 6.3%Average Daily Rate (ADR): $85.48, increased by 2.09%Revenue Per Room (RevPar): $49.25, increased by 9.2%Revenue: $62,866,890, increased by 12.6%Since 2005, Cumberland Valley has seen a steady increase in the hotel ADR and RevPar, indicating an increasing market share, and an increase of 18 new lodging properties with 1,000 lodging rooms for a total of 4,500 available rooms and 65 lodging properties.Impact of Economic DevelopmentIn terms of economic development, CAEDC has capitalized $47 million in business development projects over the past three years resulting in the direct creation and retention of 4,601 jobs and $516 million in corporate investment. These jobs represent 4% of total employment in Cumberland County.In the past ten years, CAEDC has capitalized over $133 million in projects, resulting in over $714 million in private sector investment, what this means for the Cumberland Valley area is that companies want to do business here and are coming in or expanding, and creating more jobs.Cumberland County is also the fastest growing county in terms of population in Pennsylvania. Just as the county is growing, so is CAEDC’s destination marketing results. Our county has garnered double the number of accolades over the last year, indicating a sharp increase in the perceptions and awareness of the county’s attributes nationally.Cumberland County is considered the best county to live in Pennsylvania for a number of factors: fourth lowest poverty level; fifth highest median income; sixth lowest unemployment rate; 10th highest high school graduation rate; and 11th lowest commute time, at only 21 minutes. The median home price here managed to be a very decent $183,500, so the area is desirable, but not impossible to afford.The study also showed that GDP growth has remained positive despite the recession averaging 2.6% annual growth.Since the inception of CAEDC in 2005, GDP grew by 24.5%, representing $6.4 billionPrivate sector GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.8%, increasing 26.1% by a total of $5.4 billionEven manufacturing GDP grew by an average of 2.2% annually, increasing by 22% representing nearly $5 billionSince CAEDC came into operation, two sectors that had a negligible presence in Cumberland County are now showing strong employment growth. These are the Professional, Scientific, and Technical services (in which over 600 new jobs have been created, a 6.2% increase), and the Management of Companies and Enterprises sector (with nearly 2,400 new jobs, representing a 24.3% increase). These two sectors represent high wage, high growth sectors.This article was published in the June Cumberland Valley Business Journal.