York County tourism growth outpacing region, state averages
- Report shows York County's 2016 growth in hotel occupancy more than doubles region and state growth.
- York County raised hotel tax from 3 to 5 percent last year, increasing revenue 75 percent July-Nov.
York County is becoming a more popular place to visit, according to hotel statistics.
STR, a firm that tracks hotel bookings for the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau, reports that more than 790,000 rooms were booked here last year.
That number represents a 4.3 percent increase in demand over 2015, which outpaces a 2.1 percent regional increase and 1.3 percent state, according to a news release from the bureau.
Not all hotels participate in STR's survey, on which the report is based, but about 36 properties in York County do, according to bureau spokesman Andrew Staub.
STR places York in a region that includes Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and Dauphin counties in Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties in Maryland.
“These numbers validate the strength of York County’s tourism industry,” bureau president Anne Druck said in the release. “Increased visitation is driving demand for lodging. Visitors are packing our hotels as they come to York County for sporting events, conventions, factory tours and leisure travel destinations such as the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail.
"Increased visitation also means increased spending in our community for dining, retail, attractions and transportation.”
The local tourism effort got a funding boost last year when the state passed a bill allowing counties to raise their hotel occupancy tax, and York County Commissioners promptly raised it from 3 percent to 5 percent.
The county began seeing the benefits of that increase in July, and through November, the tax delivered more than $1.5 million, a nearly 75 percent increase over the amount collected during the same time frame in 2015, according to Staub.
The increased tax is expected to add about $1.2 million in annual revenue, which will mostly go toward a tourism grant program administered by the bureau.