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Lancaster County's economic growth spurred by uptick in tourism

2021 saw a record number of more than 9 million visitors come to Lancaster County.

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — It was a major year for growth in Lancaster County as the annual "Economic Impacts of Tourism" report for 2021 showed major increases both in visitors to the area and in spending.

The report, which provides an important assessment of the state of travel in Lancaster County, found that 9.13 million visitors came to the county (32% higher than 2020), and spent $2.3 billion in the area during 2021.

Edward Harris, President and CEO of Discover Lancaster said those increases will have a major impact on the economy in Lancaster County going forward.

"Local tourism economy is a big deal," Harris said. "So, the whole community benefits and there's a ripple effect as we get more visitors coming to Lancaster County to spend those tourism dollars. It helps everyone."

Two of the major economic benefits from increased tourism are job growth and tax revenue.

According to the report, employment that was supported directly by visitor spending totaled 14,684 jobs in the county, marking an 11.7% increase from 2020.

"When you have this kind of impact on tourism, it means more jobs," Harris explained.

"We're hoping more and more people return to the hospitality industry...and that's going to be a key piece for us as we approach the primetime summer tourism months here."

With growth comes the question of economic equity in the area as well.

Jake Thorsen, Southwest Lancaster neighborhood director, writing in a statement:

"Tourism provides needed jobs for community members. It’s important for the industry to pay a living wage where residents can support to provide for themselves and their families...we hope to see the growth in tourism and the sector equate to a growth in opportunities for residents of Lancaster”

Eonomic growth also brings some increased tax benefits. 

The report also highlighted that in part saying, "industry activity generated $209.9 million in state and local taxes, which is equivalent to $1,029 in tax savings for every household in Lancaster County."

2021 was an important year for growth in a community that's bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"When we see a surge in visitation," Harris explained, "it also brings more money into Discover Lancaster, where we can continue to promote all the wide range of things to experience here."

This summer, Discover Lancaster is touting several new experiences for the area including: