Lynn Burkholder is understandably excited about the new private/public partnership that will promote Pennsylvania tourism to a global audience.
The announcement of the joint partnership is a historic event 25 years in the making.
“For the first time we have an opportunity to move toward a place where the private sector has a bigger role over its destiny,” said Burkholder, Project Director, Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership. “For the public sector, there is a real opportunity to tap the knowledge of the private sector. When you do that, I believe good things will happen.”
The first order of business for the new partnership is to develop a steering committee, comprised of representatives from both the public and private sectors.
Once the committee is in place, members will focus on the creation of a targeted and comprehensive strategic marketing plan while looking at ways to make the partnership a self-sustaining and independent organization.
“How do we get the state to maximize the impact of tourism to the state’s economy, and how do we get the private sector to provide not only funding but the practical vision as well?” Burkholder said about the committee’s charge. “Finding a dedicated funding source that is sustainable is the key, everyone knows that, but the question is how we get there.”
It is a process that Burkholder knows will take time to achieve.
“This will be a gradual buildup – we’re not going to get there overnight,” Burkholder said. “It will be a long process that will require small steps. If you talk to anyone who has been in this industry they will tell you that we have been talking about this for 25 years, so I am really excited that we are making this happen.”
Burkholder, who has worked in tourism for 20 years, said the key will be placing the right mix of leaders and visionaries on the steering committee from within – and outside – of the industry.
“We will have to tap into the visionaries within the industry – and I don’t think they all have to be just inside the industry, I believe they can be on the periphery,” Burkholder said. “When you look at food and beverage manufacturers, agriculture and transportation, all of which have deep ties to tourism, there are many strong business and marketing minds within those industries,” Burkholder said. “Ultimately, we will need leaders who see the vision, get excited about the vision and be committed to helping achieve the vision.”
Realizing the committee will be comprised of individuals who will bring diverse opinions to the table is a challenge that Burkholder believes she is qualified to handle. Burkholder previously served as Vice President of Marketing for Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and as Director of Marketing for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company.
“At Hershey, I led a company-wide initiative to centralize customer data, working with the entertainment and resorts divisions. At Hollywood Casino, I led a collaborative effort involving both gaming and racing, two very different entities, to effectively market the facility,” Burkholder added.
The tourism partnership is a joint initiative of the Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania Association of Travel and Tourism and Team Pennsylvania Foundation.