Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership is working to strengthen the state’s $38 billion industry across the commonwealth.
Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership is working to strengthen the state’s $38 billion industry across the commonwealth. (Photo courtesy of[/caption]

The creation of the Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership (PTP) by the commonwealth and the involvement of the private sector in helping to grow tourism signify a new direction for an industry whose economic impact is over $38 billion.

The 16-member steering committee, comprised of 13 private sector tourism leaders and three public sector representatives of state agencies relating to tourism, has been charged with strengthening the state’s tourism brand and further advancing marketing efforts of the state as a tourist destination.

A joint venture of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), Team Pennsylvania Foundation and the Pennsylvania Association of Travel and Tourism (PATT), the PTP’s Steering Committee recently named C. Alan Walker, Secretary, DCED, as public sector co-chair and Karen Winner Sed, Chief Executive Officer, Winner International, as private sector co-chair.

Co-chairs were named at a recent meeting of the steering committee at the PATT Annual Tourism Summit in Lancaster. In addition to naming co-chairs, the committee began its work to develop a strategy to provide a strong, sustainable, consistent marketing effort for the state.

“After nearly 25 years of the tourism industry exploring a variety of approaches to marketing, Pennsylvania is on the verge of making history,” Walker said. “The creation of a steering committee was an essential first step for the partnership toward strengthening the commonwealth’s tourism brand and marketing and achieving greater continuity. Its continued evolution will require collaboration with Pennsylvania’s tourism industry and business leaders as well as tourism colleagues around the country.”

Sed, whose company is a Team PA investor, said tourism is an industry sector that impacts communities large and small from the shores of Lake Erie to the Pocono Mountains in Northeast Pennsylvania. Sed also currently serves on the Foundation’s Board of Directors and is a past board co-chair.

“Tourism is an important component to the overall economic health of the commonwealth,” Sed said. “When this committee completes its work to further strengthen tourism, the impact that will have on the state’s economy will benefit all Pennsylvanians. That is one reason I believe it is important to serve on this committee and why I agreed to co-chair it.”

Tourism reached the highest level of post-recession growth in 2012 with an estimated 192.3 million domestic and international travelers visiting the commonwealth. Total leisure traveler spending grew by 4 percent that year, reaching a new record high of $38.4 billion, according to DCED statistics. A total of 470,000 jobs are supported by Pennsylvania’s travel and tourism industry, representing 6.5 percent of the state total employment.

Walker said the steering committee consists of members with a wealth of marketing and business experience, which will assist the group in fulfilling its mission.

“Each private sector member of the PTP Steering Committee represents a unique region or entity and brings a different and innovative point of view of the tourism industry,” Walker said. “Collectively, working in conjunction with PATT and the State Tourism Office, the committee will be able to develop an all-encompassing plan of action and tourism brand that can be marketed now and into the future.”

Greg Booth, President and CEO, Zippo Manufacturing Company, said he agreed to serve on the steering committee to help lure even more tourist dollars to Pennsylvania. Last year, Zippo manufactured its 500th million lighter at its production facility in Bradford, McKean County, according to Booth, who has more than 35 years of marketing experience.

“Our goal is to ensure the marketing group crafts a message that makes Pennsylvania an attractive and interesting tourist destination and in such a way that the message has long-term consistency for many years to come,” Booth said.

Sed, whose company has produced and marketed over 100 products and owns several hotels and Bed and Breakfast facilities in Mercer County, said steering committee members are excited about the future prospects of the tourism industry in Pennsylvania.

“The future holds a lot of promise for Pennsylvania’s tourism industry,” Sed added. “The new marketing plan will help to make a huge difference, and the committee is excited to see Pennsylvania’s tourism industry grow.”