CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The tourism industry’s impact on Happy Valley is growing for another year.
A new study commissioned by the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau found that visitation to Centre County was up more than 10% in 2022 compared to 2021.
“If the numbers are increasing then that’s good news for everybody,” HVAB CEO & President Fritz Smith said.
The visitor profile report from Longwoods International found that 4.8 million per-person trips were taken in 2022.
Smith said these numbers can be credited to an uptick in business and events in the area.
“Heads in beds are of course important to our lodging properties and hospitality businesses, as well as to the HVAB’s tourism economic development mission,” Smith said.
The annual study focuses on tourism aspects like the number of jobs, tax and restaurant revenue and hotel stays in the county.
“About 35% of our visitors stay overnight. About 65% are day-trippers,” Smith said. “We want to get more people staying overnight because that’s really where we get more economic benefit.”
For both day trips and overnight stays, the outdoors and sporting activities ranked as top reasons to visit Happy Valley, topping the U.S. norm.
“Post-COVID, that was really a trend,” Smith said. “We’re seeing a lot more visitation in our state parks. Our trails, our bike trails, some of the great races.”
Unlike with previous years, Smith said this study found visitors aren’t just sticking to State College on their trips.
“We want that to continue but we also want to expose some of the other great things that we have around the county,” Smith said. “Bellefonte, Philipsburg, Bald Eagle State Forest.”
Since the report was commissioned for 2022, it did not show the effects of the Happy Valley IRONMAN on tourism, but Smith said the next one, will likely have a large impact.