The Tourism Economy

Tourism is a major economic driver. Tourism helps Allegheny County residents and businesses.

A message from Jerad Bachar, President and CEO

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, one statement has stood true - the only certainty is uncertainty. Uncertainty causes high levels of stress and insecurity for us all. One section of our community that is struggling the most is our business owners and workforce within the travel and hospitality industry. I don’t believe that any other industry has been affected more by policy restrictions, economic distress and loss of employment.

The Impact in Allegheny County 

According to research conducted by Tourism Economics, Allegheny County’s tourism industry will have lost $3.6 billion in visitor spending and 24,540 jobs by the end of 2020. As residents, we see this impact every day as we witness the closure or reduced business levels of hotels, restaurants, museums, airlines, transportation companies, event organizers (conventions, sports and festivals), independent retailers and many others. While we understand and support the measures that have been taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we also mourn the temporary loss of an entire industry.

As we have seen in the past, the travel industry is resilient and can be rebuilt, allowing our neighborhood businesses to recover. Elected officials, healthcare officials and travel industry leaders have all predicted that our economic and societal recovery will take many months if not many years. The ‘new normal’ is upon us.

A Formula for Success

If this is to be the best environment in which we live, we must find ways to not only survive but to thrive. If daily COVID-19 case counts and mitigating health risks is our reality for the foreseeable future, we should strive to find a better formula for success for hundreds of businesses and thousands of workers who are trying to get by.

We can collectively thrive if:

  • As good community stewards, we follow the direction of our doctors, nurses and other health professionals and wear a mask, wash our hands and practice proper social distancing.
  • We work with our elected officials to establish guidelines that balance the health and safety of our residents and workers with appropriate levels of restrictions that allow businesses to continue.
  • We allow guidelines to remain in place for longer periods so businesses can plan staffing and general operational practice, and when it is necessary to alter business restrictions, we allow enough planning time for business owners to respond. 
  • As consumers, we continue to support our local businesses any way we can.

We recognize these efforts are underway, and we have yet to reach a balance. If we are to survive - and hopefully thrive - as we move forward, we must continue to work together to find the right formula. Together, we can bring Pittsburgh back.

Impact of Tourism in Allegheny County

Travel and tourism is one of the largest industries in Allegheny County.

Consider this:

  • Visitor spending in Allegheny County amounted to $6.57 billion in 2019. 
  • State and local tax revenue generated by visitors to Allegheny County is estimated at $413.2 million - which translates to each Allegheny County household saving $763 a year on taxes.
  • More than 43,000 jobs in Allegheny County are directly supported by this industry.

The Breakdown

There are more than 12.6 million overnight trips to the Greater Pittsburgh region every year. In Allegheny County, visitor spending contributes to $6.57 billion in new dollars to the economy. How does that translate? 

  • $1.94 Billion spent on Transportation
  • $1.36 Billion spent on Food & Beverage 
  • $1.39 Billion spent on Recreation
  • $1.03 Billion spent on Retail
  • $836.4 Million spent on Lodging

Data Source: PA Tourism Office, PA Department of Community & Economic Development, "The Economic Impact of Travel in Pennsylvania" for calendar year 2019, released in February 2021.

For more information on the importance of travel and tourism to Pennsylvania's economy, go to

VisitPITTSBURGH is the official tourism promotion agency for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. We are dedicated to bringing conventions, trade shows and leisure travelers to the Pittsburgh region.

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