It’s no secret that 2020 saw the hospitality and tourism industry struggle due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including that of Bucks County.
However, according to Paul Bencivengo, president and COO of the tourism agency Visit Bucks County, the following year saw an impressive resurgence in people wanting to see what the area is all about.
“Looking back at 2021, data showed a strong recovery of the Bucks County tourism industry,” said Bencivengo during VBC’s annual meeting, held recently at The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm. “As travel restrictions lifted, potential visitors in key markets such as the New York, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia metros sought experiences and connection through travel again in suburban, drivable destinations.”
Bencivengo shared some impressive statistics during the meeting, which drew more than 150 tourism professionals. In 2021, Bucks County welcomed 7.58 million visitors, generating $986 million in economic impact and supporting a total hospitality workforce of more than 25,000 jobs.
This year, the county is seeing a slight increase in room supply. Hotel occupancy is essentially flat, with the average daily hotel room rate up 15 percent year-to-date from 2021.
Additionally, requests for Bucks County travel information continue to come through, with Visit Bucks County receiving a minimum 50 requests per day, seven days a week, for its printed Destination Guide.
During the meeting, VBC marketing director Heather Walter shared a number of initiatives from her department, including three newly-produced television commercials and the launch of TikTok and additional vlog content on YouTube. The agency’s commercials garnered more than 83 million media impressions in Bucks County’s target markets of New York, Northern New Jersey, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Lancaster, York and Washington, D.C.
“Our content, marketing and reporting is all starting to grow and evolve to market to new generations of visitors on platforms like TikTok, YouTube and other reel, short and vlog dominated social media spaces where consumers are spending a great deal of time and watching a ton of content,” said Walter.
Since its launch in May, the @VisitBucksPA TikTok has already attracted nearly 13,000 followers and garnered more than 5 million video views.
VBC also created a new vlog style YouTube playlist “Visit Bucks County’s Local Tourist,” which features YouTube host and content creator Claudia Murtha. Visitors to the playlist can enjoy a mix of long form video and YouTube shorts focused on attractions, breweries, creameries and more across the county. These videos have gained more than 2 million views.
Walter then highlighted VBC’s latest product development initiative — the Bucks County Wine & Art Trail. This partnership with the Arts & Cultural Council of Bucks County is aimed at driving new traffic to local wineries and engaging a new market of artists.
This past summer, more than 75 artists created works at the wineries in preparation for the trail’s launch. Then, on Oct. 1, a total of 14 outdoor art reproductions were installed at seven Bucks County vineyards. Consumers who visit and check-in digitally to three or more vineyards will receive a free set of fine art notecards featuring some of the original works of art painted at the wineries. They will also be entered to win one of the outdoor art reproductions that have been installed at the wineries.
Lisa Paglaiccetti, VBC’s industry relations and visitor services director, wrapped up the meeting by sharing exciting plans for the future. These include the ongoing development of Visit Bucks County’s mobile Visitor Center that canvases the county, engaging with consumers at area attractions, festivals and events.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org