Gettysburg tourism big business for local communities

More than 786,000 visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site in 2022 spent $57.1 million in communities near the park, according to a new National Park Service (NPS) report. 

Tourism spending supported 686 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $82.1 million.

“Gettysburg and Eisenhower welcome visitors locally and from around the world,” Superintendent Steven D. Sims said in a statement. “We are happy to be able to share the stories of the Battle of Gettysburg and the lives of President and First Lady, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, to the numerous experiences they provide. 

“We also appreciate the partnerships and support of our neighbors and are very fortunate to be part of the thriving heritage tourism and outdoor recreation communities throughout south-central Pennsylvania.”

Economists at the National Park Service conducted the peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis. The report shows $23.9 billion of direct spending by nearly 312 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. 

This spending supported 378,400 jobs nationally; 314,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $50.3 billion.

The lodging sector had the highest direct effects of visitor spending, with $9 billion in economic output nationally. The second greatest effect went to the restaurant sector, with $4.6 billion in economic output nationally.

Lancaster’s tourism industry increases, new events planned for 2023

When it comes to tourism and travel, everything is coming up (red) roses for Lancaster County in 2023. 

Lancaster’s tourism continues to grow, boosting the local workforce and continuing the industry’s rebound from the pandemic, Discover Lancaster stated in its 2022 tourism economic report. 

“It’s great to see that Lancaster County tourism continued to grow even more last year, off a solid 2021,” Edward Harris, president/CEO of Discover Lancaster, said in a statement.

“Leisure travel kept increasing in 2022, making our overall visitation numbers higher than pre-pandemic 2019 levels for the second year in a row.  We also made further gains in restoring both group travel and the workforce that sustains our industry and allows it to make such a major contribution to the area’s economy.”

The county’s official destination marketing organization, Discover Lancaster announced along with its tourism report the introduction of the Lancaster County Ice Cream Trail. The mobile-based trail runs through Sept. 30 and represents one of Lancaster’s new tourism attractions for this year. 

The trail includes 25 stops and trail users are eligible for store discounts and can redeem points for merchandise. 

Discover Lancaster is also promoting the following: 

  • Lancaster Electric Bicycle Tour from Unique Lancaster Experiences. 
  • River tours on Susquehanna National Heritage Area’s new historic electric boat. 
  • Enola Low Grade multi-use trail. 
  • Route and equipment upgrades made to Lititz Bikeworks’ bike share offering on the Warwick-Ephrata Rail Trail. 
  • Dutch Wonderland’s 60th anniversary season, which features a new ride and entertainment. 
  • Sight & Sound Theatres’ production of “Moses”, which is returning after nine years. 
  • Dining & retail spots in Lancaster City, including Proof Lancaster, 401 Prime, and A Concrete Rose. 
  • Eden Resort & Suites’ new Bistro 2two2 dining and a second pool and cabanas rentals. 
  • Lancaster Science Factory’s new Sky Bridge – 35 climber panels reaching to 25 feet high. 
  • Kitchen Kettle Village’s new and expanded stores. 
  • Bird-in-Hand’s Artisan Village.


The tourism report was conducted by the analysis firm Tourism Economics and notes that in 2022, an estimated 9.77 million visitors to Lancaster County spent $2.45 billion. Those figures represented respective gains of 7.1% and 15.5% over 2021.

In addition, 24,481 county jobs, including 15,996 direct industry jobs, were supported by visitor spending.  Both totals grew by nearly 6% last year and kept tourism in the Top 10 largest non-agriculture private sector employers in the county.

York County tourism grant program open for 2023

The Explore York Tourism Grant Program is accepting round one applications for this year, open to organizations to request funding for tourism-related projects and events.

The program seeks projects that support geographic diversity across York County. Those promoting racial equity are also encouraged. Examples would be projects that highlight York County’s “Makers Spirit!”

Applications are being sought for tourism initiatives that:

· Attract visitors outside of a 50-mile radius of York County.

· Create a positive financial impact through hotel stays.

· Enhance the visitor experience.

First-round applicants must request at least $2,500. All grant applications require a 25% cash or in-kind match. There is no limit to the funds requested during this round, and applications are being accepted now through noon Feb. 15. The window for round two applications opens this summer.

Since it began in 2017, the grant program has reinvested more than $3 million in York County tourism initiatives.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

New tourism trail targets coffee drinkers

Cafe One Eight at 18 W Orange St, Lancaster, is one of 21 coffee shops on the Discover Lancaster Coffee Trail. PHOTO/CAFE ONE EIGHT

Discover Lancaster is rolling out a new initiative that puts coffee drinkers on the road to Lancaster County coffee shops.

Some 20 unique coffee shops, in fact, are spread across Lancaster County and reach from Lancaster City to Ephrata.

“The rollout comes at a time when tourism has traditionally seen an uptick in out-of-town visitors arriving for the popular fall harvest season,” said Ed Harris, President & CEO of Discover Lancaster. “This is one more fun activity to add to a jam-packed itinerary to enhance the visitor experience. There’s plenty of options to find a great coffee and pumpkin-spiced latte.”

Developed in partnership with Bandwango, the Discover Lancaster Coffee Trail is the first in a series of themed trails to be rolled out in future seasons to enhance the visitor experience. Harris said the mobile passport offers a curated collection of coffee shops in Lancaster, as well as exclusive deals and discounts to favorite local coffee spots.

“From Lancaster City, to Intercourse, to Ephrata, and everywhere in between,” said Harris, “there’s a wide range of unique coffee shop experiences that can be found in our towns across Lancaster County.”

The list of participating shops on the Coffee Trail include:

Aura Espresso Room; Bird-in-hand Bakery & Cafe; Butter & Bean; Cafe 301; Cafe Arabella; Cafe One Eight; Coffee Co – Lancaster; Copper Cup; Courtyard Cafe on Main; Hudson Botanical; Javteas Gourmet Coffee Cafe; La Mattina Caffe; Mill 72 Bake Shop & Cafe; Passenger Coffee & Tea; Prince Street Cafe; Rachel’s Cafe & Creperie; September Farm Cheese; Speckled Hen Coffee; Square One Coffee Roasters; The Houston Co. Cafe; and The Roasted Rooster

“Our new mobile-based coffee trail highlights the many small businesses who have poured everything they have into opening the coffee shop of their dreams,” Harris said.

Visitors to the participating coffee shops can check-in digitally at each stop to count towards their prize. After 5 stops visitors earn a Discover Lancaster Sticker & Coaster. After 10 stops, a Discover Lancaster Coffee Mug. A Discover Lancaster Canvas Bag is earned after 15 stops. Prizes can be redeemed at Discover Lancaster visitors center.

“This is an invitation to celebrate Lancaster and bring more business to our small businesses,” said Harris. “Our mission is to educate people about what’s in our back yard. We have expectations for an ice cream trail, a brewery trail. We’re excited to roll this out and test it.”