Mike Bowman, president and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, spoke at the tourism agency’s annual luncheon Oct. 26. The Board of Tourism has released its annual report – painting a picture of the industry’s continued recovery in Montgomery County. (Photo courtesy of Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board)
Montgomery County tourism is making great strides in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Valley Forge Convention and Tourism Board reports that the county’s hospitality industry is within 98.9 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
The tourism agency released its annual report highlighting the economic impact of the hospitality industry in Montgomery County during its annual luncheon on Oct. 26 – sharing an upbeat outlook with more than 600 attendees at the event.
The theme for this year’s report is “Focus,” with the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board saying it remains focused on “inspiring visitors to travel and fall in love with” Montgomery County.
Tourism continues to be a key driver of the county’s economy, the agency reported, adding that visitor spending last year generated a positive impact of $1.6 billion, according to Tourism Economics, a 14.4 percent increase over the previous year and slightly more than -down from pre-pandemic spending numbers.
“I am so proud of the way the VFTCB staff has remained focused on supporting our hoteliers and our entire tourism industry in Montco,” Mike Bowman, president and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, said in a statement. “The team’s commitment to innovation and creativity is simply remarkable and one of the many reasons Montgomery County continues to lead and outperform the region.”
In reporting the fiscal year’s accomplishments, the tourism board said Montgomery County’s 83 hotels “lead the suburban market” with an average daily rate of $133. The properties generated more than $200 million in hotel room revenue, a 9 percent increase from 2022, according to the report. In June, hotel revenue was the highest ever, according to a press release, reaching $29.3 million and an average daily rate of $147.
Sports is another area with positive results. In fact, the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board sports team reported a record summer. The county hosted 35 sporting events with record attendance, generating more than 85,000 total overnight stays. According to Lisa Karl, Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board vice president of sales and strategic partnerships, the performance generated $23 million in economic impact, up 19 percent from last year.
The USA Youth Soccer President’s Cup East, held June 16-20, was the largest sporting event to ever come to Montgomery County, according to the annual report. The tournament was held at the Proving Grounds in Conshohocken and Plymouth Whitemarsh High School and generated 5,000 room nights and $5 million in economic impact.
In 2024, the county will host the YMCA Gymnastics Nationals, which the tourism board expects to be even bigger than the football tournament.
In terms of Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board’s total group business, sports contribute more than 70 percent of the agency’s group business, up 11 percent in 2022 and up 28 percent from 2019, according to a news release .
The keynote speaker at the event was Nicole Lynn, agent of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Lynn talks about being a black woman in the sports business and staying focused through all of life’s distractions. She also talked about continuing to build her brand since “brokering one of the biggest deals in sports history,” according to the release.
Attendees at the annual event were among the first to see several new Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board videos.
Carl premiered the agency’s new sports and dating videos, which were created in partnership with Parody Studios and Seven Knots Film & Media.
In addition, the tourism board’s marketing and communications team premiered a new video that will be used to promote the agency’s upcoming holiday campaign. The marketing and communications team also reported total web page views of over 1.5 million and 500,000 new users.
Additionally, the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board reported that Visit Valley Forge’s social media following has grown to more than 210,000 with 3.5 million video views. The agency’s editorial reach has so far reached over 2.4 million.