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County Tourist numbers are up

Visitor numbers are starting to approach pre-pandemic levels for the Warren County Visitors Bureau.

And they’re engaging in different ways.

Executive Director Dave Sherman said the agency saw 161 visitors at the physical building in June 2020. June 2021? That number doubled.

He explained that it’s still not as high “as it has been in years gone by” with “some months over 400” but internet traffic appears to be making up the difference – they initially printed 30,000 visitors guides but had to go back out and order 10,000 more.

“They don’t need us to the level they used to in the building per say,” he said.

Another visitor contact point has reopened and that’s the Kinzua Point Information Center off Route 59. The WCVB staffs that facility three days a week. A recent day shift at the site saw 77 visitors.

While that might not seem like a huge number, where those visitors are from catches the eye — local and regional places like Corry, Slippery Rock, Seneca as well as Pittsburgh and Buffalo but also Florida, New Jersey, Kansas City, Brooklyn and North Carolina.

Another sign of the return of tourist traffic to Warren County is reflected in the WCVB’s financials — the vast majority of their funding comes from the hotel occupancy tax. So as hotels fill rooms, the WCVB’s revenues go up.

Sherman said they are projecting “real close to 2019 numbers” for the 2021-22 budget for the bed tax revenue.

He looked back to March 2020 and said “our financial outlook was bleak. We had to do a lot of scrambling. … We prepared a six month budget forecasting a 20,000 loss.”

And as the revenues have returned in recent months, Sherman said they can “start promoting, sponsoring, advertising a lot more.”

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