Bethlehem Press

Friday, August 17, 2018

Valley tourism by the numbers

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 by Bernie O’Hare Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Discover Lehigh Valley, our local tourism bureau, has been around since 1984. It has a $3 million budget and 13 full-time employees. You might ask yourself, “What good is it?” Is it all just fluff? Mike Stershic, who is President at Discover LV until the end of the year, made an effective case for his agency in a June 7 presentation to Northampton County Council. Here’s a condensed version, by the numbers:

• In 2016, visitors spend $2.2 billion in the Lehigh Valley. They spent more on recreation (28 percent) than all other regions in the state.

• The tourism industry employs 24,750 people valleywide, generating $480 million in federal, state and local taxes.

• The overall occupancy rate at hotels in 2017 was 70.7 percent. Over 1.5 million room nights were sold, which translates to 4,186 people in our hotels nightly.

• 59 percent of LV visitors have been here four or more times within the past two years.

• The Lehigh Valley accounts for 5.2 percent of visitor spending in the state, up from 2.46 percent when DiscoverLV was first formed.

Mike Stershic, long-time president of DiscoverLV, called tourism a “first date” for likely investors. He also shared a statement he heard from Maura Gast of the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau:

If you build a place where people want to visit, you’ll build a place where people want to live. If you build a place where people want to live, you’ll build a place where people want to work. And, if you build a place where people want to work, you’ll build a place where business has to be. If you build a place where business has to be, you’ll build a place where people have to visit.