The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) released its 2022 Annual Report highlighting the positive economic impact of the hospitality industry in Montgomery County, during its first in-person annual luncheon in three years.
With a theme of “Forge Ahead,” the report shared an “optimistic outlook for tourism” in the county, according to a press release, reporting levels close to those the industry experienced pre-pandemic.
Mike Bowman, president and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board on stage during the agency’s Oct. 28 annual luncheon. (PHOTO COURTESY VALLEY FORGE TOURISM AND CONVENTION BOARD)
According to the agency, tourism continues to be a key driver of the economy. In 2021, visitor spending in the county generated $1.4 billion in positive economic impact. That’s up 46%, or $443 million from 2020, and also within $200 million of 2019 levels, according to Tourism Economics.
“We’re gaining back ground in the right direction, and seeing positive momentum,” Mike Bowman, president and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, said in a statement. “I’m so proud of how the VFTCB staff has overcome obstacles to support our hoteliers and our entire tourism industry in Montco. Their commitment to creativity is amazing, and that’s one of the many reasons why Montgomery County continues to lead and outperform the region.”
The number of booked room nights was also back up to 1.9 million last year, and room revenue recovered to $206 million, the agency reported, which outpaced the Philadelphia region, and periodically surpassed monthly 2019 figures. Visitors also supported more than 17,000 jobs in Montgomery County, according to Tourism Economics.
So far this year, Montgomery County leads the suburban counties with an average daily rate of $126.76. The county’s year-end forecasted revenue — $250.7 million — is just shy of 2019’s level of $253.8 million.
According to Smith Travel Research, hotel demand and economic impact of the industry for the county are expected to grow, and are forecasted to exceed 2019 levels by mid-year with record highs anticipated in 2023 and beyond.
The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board’s sports team announced that 2022 will feature 100 events producing more than 85,000 total room nights generating $65 million in positive economic impact. That’s an increase of 14% year-over-year, and 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to Lisa Karl, Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board vice president of sales and strategic partnerships.
The Oct. 28 annual luncheon, held at the Sheraton Valley Forge in Upper Merion, included more than 400 attendees.
During the event, the agency announced the Paul Decker & Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board Hospitality Scholarship Fund through the Montgomery County Community College Foundation. The new scholarship was announced by Jake Markezin, vice president of operations and Paul Decker, former president and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board.
Starting in 2023, the $20,000 endowed scholarship will be awarded to a Montgomery County resident that has financial need and is in good academic standing, to pursue a degree in tourism hospitality management or culinary arts.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist in soccer Carli Lloyd, left, with Monty the Fox, mascot for the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board. (PHOTO COURTESY VALLEY FORGE TOURISM AND CONVENTION BOARD)
Guest speaker and two-time Olympic gold medalist in soccer, Carli Lloyd, spoke about forging ahead by overcoming obstacles on and off the field, being a woman in the world of sports, as well as giving advice to youth.
Members of the Sixers Stixers Drumline perform outside the Sheraton Valley Forge Hotel at the Oct. 28 annual luncheon for the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board. (PHOTO COURTESY VALLEY FORGE TOURISM AND CONVENTION BOARD)
The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board’s marketing and communications team reported on several items, including:
• Plans for a new way to enjoy the county’s breweries, wineries, and distilleries through the Montco Makers Passport.
• Data-driven marketing plans, such as flying banners over 12 million people from Atlantic City to Cape May, N.J. and sponsoring weather cameras on both NBC 10 and FOX 29.
• A redesign of valleyforge.org to provide easy-to-find inspirational content, interactive maps, easy booking options, and prioritized video and things to do — to help raise awareness and increase visitation to the county’s attractions, hotels, restaurants, and events.
• Continued support for restaurants with Crave Montco Month in July. This year’s event drove 23,000 visits to the website, a 485% increase, according to a press release.
• Continued support for arts and culture with Arts Montco Week & Jazz Fest in September, as well as for dozens of local, diverse artists at the three Arts Montco Walls at the King of Prussia Mall, Philadelphia Premium Outlets, and the Charles Blockson Black History Exhibit at Centre Theater in Norristown.
The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board reported that its social following has grown to more than 180,000 with 2.5 million video views, and 22 million impressions.