YORK, PA - York County's tourism industry registered a stellar 2016, with increased overnight visitation that outpaced our region and state performance, according to newly released data from STR, which tracks hotel statistics for the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
According to the data, York County's participating hotels reported 790,816 booked rooms for calendar year 2016. This 4.3 percent increase in demand over 2015 is more than double the 2.1 percent regional increase for Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and Dauphin counties in Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties in Maryland. The number of hotel rooms sold in York County also increased at a significantly higher rate than the 1.3 percent growth experienced in the state.
STR data released in January provided the first full look at hotel performance in 2016. The STR (Smith Travel Accommodations Report) program is used by the global hotel industry as a vital revenue management tool. The report benchmarks a hotel's performance against its competitive aggregate and local market. The STR program tracks and delivers monthly, weekly and daily data.
"These numbers validate the strength of York County's tourism industry," said Anne Druck, President of the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau (YCCVB). "Increased visitation is driving demand for lodging. Visitors are packing our hotels as they come to York County for sporting events, conventions, factory tours and leisure travel destinations such as the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail. Increased visitation also means increased spending in our community for dining, retail, attractions and transportation."
July proved the strongest month of the year, with reported hotel revenue peaking at $7.2 million and bookings hitting a zenith of close to 80,000. Already a busy summer travel month, July also brought the Keystone State Games, presented by York College of Pennsylvania, to York County for the second straight year, drawing thousands of youth athletes, coaches and their families to town.
"We are working hard to continue this positive growth trend in 2017," said Liz Winand, Chair of the YCCVB Board of Directors and the owner of Shank's Mare Outfitters. "The YCCVB's first foray into the weddings market includes 36 business partners from the York Revolution to Wyndridge Farm and the York County History Center to Bailey Trailways. Weddings are big business in Pennsylvania and we will promote our destination to compete for this lucrative segment of the tourism industry."
Several new hotels opened or broke ground in York County in 2016, ensuring that visitors can find a local place to stay versus leaving the county during major events such as the Eastern Division TCA toy train show and the Street Rod Nationals East.
The LaQuinta Inn & Suites opened in West Manchester Township in April, adding 81 rooms to York County's supply. That proved pivotal when the Keystone State Games arrived.
"We can't overstate the significance of sports-related tourism for our industry," said Melanie Myers, the General Manager for the LaQuinta and a member of the YCCVB Board of Directors. "Events like the Keystone State Games have made busy months even stronger, and others help buoy hotels through the slower winter months. The recent Martin Luther King Kickoff Volleyball Tournament was a tremendous piece of business, and the LaQuinta is excited for another strong lineup of sporting events to come this year."
Sports drove more than $24 million in economic impact last year, as the York County CVB's Sport York program continued to lure big-time events to the region in 2016.
The YMCA of York and York County's Graham Aquatic Center hosted the PSAC and MAC Swimming Championships, as well as the Middle Atlantic Junior Olympics - bringing in a jolt of economic activity during the slower winter months. Those events will also return this year, in addition to seven other swim meets that will result in overnight stays, according to the YMCA.
"We expect that more than 25,000 people will travel through the Graham Aquatic Center - and, in turn, York County - during March and April alone," said Larry Richardson, President and CEO of The YMCA of York and York County. "Sports-related tourism not only draws visitors to our hotels, restaurants and attractions, but also brings direct revenue to the YMCA that allows us to continue our mission of serving the surrounding York County community."
A new grant program funded by county hotel room tax revenue is also expected to drive hundreds of thousands of dollars into projects that will draw even more tourists to York County in 2017 and beyond.
"This is an exhilarating time for York County's nearly $1 billion tourist industry, and the professional team at the York County CVB is working to ensure the future growth of our county's economic vitality," Druck said.
The York County Convention & Visitors Bureau's Mission is to maximize tourism expenditures and their economic impact in York County, PA, through comprehensive tourism sales and marketing programs. The York County CVB's Vision is for a York County where tourism is recognized for the value of its economic impact and its role in raising the profile of York County as a sought-after destination. For more information on the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, call 1-888-858-9675 or visit www.yorkpa.org.