Gettysburg visitation up, but will it stay?
The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address brought a 12 percent jump in the number of visitors to Adams County.
The goal now, according to convention and visitors organization Destination Gettysburg, is to build off that momentum.
The annual visitation to the county was 3.78 million people, according to research by the California University of Pennsylvania’s Tourism Research Center, a group used by Destination Gettysburg since 2007. In 2012, there were 3.4 million.
During summer 2013’s sesquicentennial commemoration — when more than 400 events were held over 10 days — visitors were estimated at 235,000, according to the research. On Nov. 19, the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the number was estimated at about 10,000.
“We are proud of these numbers,” said Norris Flowers, president of Destination Gettysburg, formerly the Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau. “But, at the same time, we know that the tourism community must work hard to keep visitation strong in Adams County after the 150th anniversary.”
Adams County and Gettysburg have seen visitation increase steadily since 2009, when the Great Recession smacked wallets across the country, leading many people to take less expensive road trips.
But will the trend continue?
“Years ago, Destination Gettysburg knew that 2013 would be a peak year, and our goal at that time — and still is today — is that we sustain that visitation as much as possible afterward,” said Destination Gettysburg communications director Carl Whitehill. “Knowing that thousands of visitors in 2013 were new visitors, we anticipate that many of those travelers will return in the future and sustain tourism as a strong industry in Adams County.”
So far, things are looking good, he said.
“We’ve done a lot to reposition our marketing to reach new audiences by highlighting experiences that many of our visitors may not be familiar with — such as wineries, shopping, orchards and outdoor recreation.”