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York appeals to tour operators

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Hoping to bring new visitors to the York market, the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau last week hosted a four-day familiarization tour for tour bus operators and group leaders from across the Mid-Atlantic.

The FAM tour included stops in York and Lancaster counties, including Harley-Davidson, Steam Into History, the Turkey Hill Experience and Brown's Orchards and Farm Market, to name a few.

"There are so many more opportunities now in the area that I did not know about," said Barbara Hahl, owner of New York-based Barbara's Bunch.

Hahl, who leads annual group trips to Sight & Sound Theatres in Lancaster, had never been to York County before last week.

"It definitely helps me plan for the future. I am so much more apt to take my group to a place I've already seen and learned about," she said.

Until now, her trips to the area have been single-day experiences, she said. That could change later this year.

A 25-year group tour veteran, who got her start running trips for a senior club at her bank, Hahl said she is in the process of planning a two-day winery tour in the area around November that would include visits to some of the attractions she stopped at last week.

Among those stops could be New Grounds Roasting Co., Sunrise Soap Co. and Wolfgang Candy Co., she said. A Harley trip also could be one of her future trip stops.

"York is in the middle of everything," Hahl said, also realizing the county's proximity to Gettysburg, which is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg this year.

In the past, Hahl said, she has tied trips to Gettysburg with visits to Washington, D.C.

"I can see where the rest of the area should be offering things and gearing up," she said about Gettysburg's big year. "Take advantage of that golden egg."

Steam Into History is a good tie-in for York County, she said.

Hahl's company, which started in January 2012, runs trips for groups from within a 65-mile radius. To this point, she has relied on a mailing list and a Facebook page. A professional website is in the works that could generate additional trips, she said.

That could mean more travel to Central Pennsylvania. And she was just one of 14 people on the FAM tour.

The goal of the annual tour is to get operators who would have overnight trips, bureau spokeswoman Allison Freeman said.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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