Pittsburgh Tourism Promotion Money Cut
Vellucci, Justin, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh might be used to playing second fiddle to Philadelphia, but what about Amish Country?
The state Tourism Office has nixed a plan to increase tourism funding to Allegheny County, instead sticking with a system that gives less money to Pittsburgh than Philadelphia, the Poconos and Lancaster County.
The move has some businesses and tourism groups crying foul about the state's priorities.
"I think the Poconos is more of a destination for the honeymooners or the weekend warriors," said Jeffrey Stein, general manager of a 189-room Sheraton hotel in Marshall. "Pittsburgh is the economic (engine) in the west of the state."
Pittsburgh expects to lose $30,000 from the roughly $1 million in state grants it now receives because the pot has shrunk from $11 million to $10.5 million, said Joe McGrath, president of VisitPittsburgh, the county's tourism promotion agency.
Philadelphia and the Poconos each receive about $1.8 million a year, compared to about $1.1 million for Lancaster County.
For every dollar spent marketing Pittsburgh, visitors dish out $560, McGrath said. The tourism industry claims 68,000 jobs, more than $3.2 billion in spending, and $220 in tax relief for every person in Allegheny County, he said.
Tourism around the Amish Country generates 8.3 million visitors a year and $100 million in tax relief, said Chris Barrett, CEO of the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"It's really not a matter of who's more important than who," Barrett said. "Pennsylvania is an incredible tourism product (and) I think if the state and we were on the same page, we'd be unbeatable. …