Visit Bucks County, the official tourism promotion agency for Bucks County, hosted a multi-session seminar at Bucks County Community College on Jan. 23.
Following the introduction by President Jerry Lepping, attendees filed into three separate break-out sessions covering marketing and communications, industry relations, and VBC agency services.
Lepping said that visitation to Bucks County increased in 2018.
Occupancy was up almost 4 percent and hotel demand was up 6.9 percent, compared to the state, which was up 3.5 percent and Philadelphia, which increased by 3 percent.
Over 8 million visitors have had a near-billion dollar impact on the local economy, supporting almost 28,000 jobs in the county, according to VBC’s website VisitBucksCounty.com.
Lepping also discussed its grant program, which started almost a decade ago. He stated that VBC was financed entirely by the 5 percent local hotel tax and thus supported by visitors instead of residents. One half of one percent goes toward the grant program, resulting in over $4 million in grants over the period the grant has been available.
The grants are distributed to over 100 different organizations that ordinarily would not qualify for larger grant programs due to their small size. Grants are given for special events, capital improvements and marketing.
Paul Bencivengo, Visit Bucks County vice president, spoke about what was new for 2019. New attractions will include the River House at Odette’s in New Hope, the Trolley Barn Public Market in Quakertown, an outdoor craft beer garden at Parx Casino, and further expansion of the Bucks County Ale Trail, which is a sipping tour of 15 craft breweries.
Bencivengo said that the County Theater in Doylestown, established in 1938 on the even older footprint of the Strand Theater, will undergo an expansion renovation in 2020 that will add several seats and downstairs bathrooms. And the four-story 106-suite Hilton Home2 Suites in Warminster is also new.
The historic Grist Mill on the Thompson-Neely Farmstead at Washington Crossing Park is newly renovated, and the park will host a Wheat and Sheep day including sheep shearing this spring.
Ten minutes to the west, 42-acre Peddler’s Village in Lahaska will roll out five new events, including the Art and Wine Festival, a Spring Kidsfest and Outdoor Movie Nights.
The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown will be opening several new exhibits, including a Nakashima studio furniture collection as well as a moon painting display. The Mercer Museum, also in Doylestown, will curate five new exhibits, including one on the American home front of the Second World War, and an event about Bucks County’s role in the space program called “Making Astronauts: Bucks County to the Moon.”
The Pearl S. Buck House in Hilltown Township will host a series of cultural discussions, including “Building on the Dream: African Americans in Bucks County, Between Two Worlds: Identity & Acculturation,” and others, touching upon topics from immigration to family and community.
Industry Relations Director Lisa Paglaiccetti introduced long weekend getaway ideas, including the rich yet seemingly cryptic role of Bucks County as one of the last desperate stops on the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves from the south.
More information on what’s new for Bucks County in 2019 can be found at the tourism website at VisitBucksCounty.com.