May 11 Proclaimed as “Travel & Tourism Day”

VisitPittsburgh touts economic benefits of travel and tourism industry.

PITTSBURGH – Visitors who travel to the Pittsburgh region because of conventions, business meetings, or simply for pleasure, spend a whopping $4.8 billion annually in Allegheny County – $993 million on food and beverages and $894 million on recreation alone.

These and other impressive travel and tourism statistics were among the highlights featured at an event organized by VisitPittsburgh today to celebrate Travel and Tourism Day.

In recognition of the event, May 11 was officially proclaimed as “Travel and Tourism Day” in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The overarching message was that the travel and tourism industry means big business for this region.

"Make no mistake, the travel and tourism industry is vital to our City's economy," Mayor Ravenstahl said. "Our City is drawing in more visitors than ever before. This helps grow and foster new small businesses – like the dozens of new downtown restaurants – creates tens of thousands of jobs and generates millions in tax revenue. I urge residents who have out of town family or friends to remind them to visit Pittsburgh this summer. The dedicated staff at VisitPittsburgh will help them to book their trip and ensure they get great deals."

Today's event coincided with National Tourism Week, which runs May 5-13. National Tourism Week was designated by Congress and established by presidential proclamation in 1993. The U.S. Travel Association joined VisitPittsburgh's celebration with its brightly colored "Vote Travel" tour bus, which is currently on a nationwide tour in an effort to encourage elected officials to support the travel industry. The tour bus stopped by the Fairmont Pittsburgh to help VisitPittsburgh raise awareness of the significant economic impact tourists have on the local, state and the national economy.

"Travel and tourism matters," said County Executive Fitzgerald. "The travel and tourism industry accounts for $4.8 billion in economic impact annually. Perhaps just as importantly, the industry employs over 37,000 residents just in this region. Statewide, tourism is the second-largest industry in Pennsylvania."

"The travel and tourism industry is an economic solution to our region. Hotels, attractions, restaurants, transportation providers and meeting venues are all positively impacted by travel to the Pittsburgh region," says Craig Davis, president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh. "And on a more personal note, the taxes and income generated by travel and tourism actually saves each Allegheny County household $561 each year. That’s why we are taking the message that 'travel matters' to everyone we can."

As the official tourism promotion agency for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, VisitPittsburgh has the job of working in cities and towns throughout the country to bring convention, trade show and leisure travelers here. The nonprofit organization does this by working with national and international meeting and convention planners, and by attracting national media to write about the great assets in the region.

At the meeting, representatives of several high-profile events that attract visitors and tourists had the opportunity to tell members of the media and the hospitality community what to expect in the coming months. Representatives from the International Jazz Festival, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix were among the guest speakers, as was the director of events for the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair, who's 11,000 attendees are being hosted by the David L. Lawrence Convention Center next week.

In 2011, VisitPittsburgh booked 538 meetings and conventions in the region. And, even though more hotel rooms than ever were offered, 2011 still marked the highest hotel occupancy rate in 20 years. "All of this is good news for the local economy and underscores how important it is that the residents of our region encourage others to travel here," said Mr. Davis.

As the official tourism promotion agency for Allegheny County, VisitPittsburgh is dedicated to generating convention, trade show and leisure travel business for the Pittsburgh region.