‘The Great American Getaway’: WCVB to incorporate new state brand in marketing efforts

Photo provided to the Times Observer This photo was taken at the Governor’s press conference in Scranton on May 20 where “Pennsylvania - The Great American Getaway” was released as the new state brand. In the photo, from left, are Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, Hind Karns, director for Clarion County Economic Development Corporation, Gov. Josh Shapiro, and Warren County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Casey Ferry.

Last month, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced a new state tourism brand – “The Great American Getaway.”

Local tourism officials see a perfect fit between promotion efforts and the state’s new brand.

“We are excited about this new campaign as it fits perfectly in with Warren County, focusing on outdoor recreation, history, and culture- all of which we have in abundance,” Casey Ferry, executive director of the Warren County Visitors Bureau, said. “The state will be targeting the same markets we do, which will be a nice complement to our efforts.”

In a statement announcing the change, the Governor’s Office highlighted Pennsylvania as “a premier weekend getaway destination within close driving proximity to major hubs along the East Coast, including New York City, Baltimore, and Washington DC.

“Here in Pennsylvania, we have it all – from top tier sports and events, award-winning restaurants, incredible hikes and state parks, and the most important historic sites in the country that tell the story of our shared history,” Shapiro said in a statement. “72 million people live within a four-hour drive of Pennsylvania – and once you’re here, you’ll find there’s something for every member of the family.

“Pennsylvania is the Great American Getaway, and my Administration is making tourism a top priority for the first time in more than a decade – it is a central part of our economic development strategy and my new budget calls for an $18 million increase for tourism and business marketing. This new brand and funding will help us grow small businesses, support our communities, and create opportunity for more Pennsylvanians.”

“Before this new initiative was released, I asked DCED Secretary Rick Siger if the rural communities would be included in a meaningful way and was told that we would be,” Ferry said. “It does appear that, so far, it is holding true as the commercials feature a good bit on outdoor recreation, forests, and waterways.”

Ferry said that former Gov. Tom Wolf cut funding for tourism to less than one-third of what it was in 2009.

“One study found that for every $1 Pennsylvania saved by cutting tourism spending in the state budget, it actually lost $4.48 in revenue generated from tourism spending,” she said. That’s why tourism is so important. It is a rare industry that touches virtually all others. When tourism is up, it positively affects the entire economy.

“It’s refreshing that Governor Shapiro sees that benefit.”

The state brand can be incorporated into county marketing efforts and state tourism officials at the local level work directly with the state.

We work with DMOs (destination marketing organizations) across the state and state entities frequently,” Ferry said. “This really gives us a direct line to Harrisburg.”

The regional proximity that Shapiro highlighted is consistent with what the WCVB is seeing locally.

“While we do, in fact, get people from around the world, the majority of the people who visit Warren County come from within a 3-5 hour radius,” Ferry said. “Our ‘hot spot’ markets that we tend to target include Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Buffalo/Toronto, Philadelphia, DC, and Baltimore. According to our stats from 2023, our visitors come from Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Canada, and Michigan (in that order).

“When I go to Pittsburgh, for instance, I am always amazed at how many people there know Tidioute. Many come for the water and land outdoor recreation, while many others come to get away and recharge. This is why we are excited about “The Great American Getaway.” That’s exactly what people flock to Warren County for.

“It confirms what we have been finding here and working toward. We have already started using (the brand) on some of our promotions, and it’s on our website.”

According to the Governor’s Office, a new report unveiled by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office in March shows Pennsylvania’s tourism industry generated $76.7 billion in economic impact, supported 486,871 jobs, contributed $4.7 billion in state and local taxes, and welcomed 192.4 million visitors in 2022.

The new brand will be the focus of a summer marketing campaign in regional markets including New York City, Washington DC, Cleveland, Toronto, and statewide across Pennsylvania.


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