Franklin County, PA, gave a positive nod to the motorcoach industry in late February when commissioners set aside $11,550 from the county’s motel tax to entertain tour bus operators. Thirty-three tour bus operators from neighboring states, the Midwest and Canadian provinces participated as guests on a four-day familiarization tour of the Lancaster-Gettysburg region, sponsored to boost tourism.
Local sources say tourism-related employment accounts for nearly 15 percent or 8,500 jobs of the county work force and more than $250,000 in earned wages.
According to a 2006 Global Insight study, tourism in the region of Pennsylvania accounts for 3.5 percent or $377 million of the Franklin County economy.
“It’s critical that county tourism director Janet Pollard spend face time with people who bring people into the county,” says L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp. “The point here is to encourage commissioners to invest the money to increase tourism.”
Pollard accompanied the operators on the bus from Lancaster and Chambersburg to Pittsburgh, site of the Heartland Travel Showcase and the Stars & Stripes Heartland Tour, one of three tours for operators attending the industry’s annual convention.
The local stopover included a dinner buffet with personifications of Ben Franklin, Chambersburg businessman Jacob Hoke and Robert E. Lee as hosts, as well as a performance of the Pennsylvania Opry at the Capitol Theatre.
The operators also met with vendors representing the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg University, Penn National Golf Course, Whitetail ski and golf resorts, Totem Pole Playhouse, Franklin County Historical Society-Kittochtinny and the Conococheague Institute.