With National Tourism Week set for May 7 – 15, figures show tourism industry accounts for $1.495B and over 22,500 regional jobs

LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa. (Friday, May 6, 2011) – With National Tourism Week set to kick off May 7 – 15, Discover Lehigh Valley has released updated tourism numbers that highlight the importance of the industry to the local economy. State tourism numbers from 2009 have been announced, and according to that study, visitors to Lehigh Valley spent $1.495 billion and the industry employed more than 22,500 people.

The most recent state tourism numbers came from Tourism Economics’ “The Economic Impact of Visitor and the Travel and Tourism Industry in Pennsylvania” study on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Of the $1.495 billion spent on tourism in Lehigh Valley, 27 percent went to food and beverage, 25 percent on transportation, 21 percent on shopping, 17 percent on recreation and 7 percent on lodging. Lehigh Valley tourism generated $323.8 million in tax revenues.

“This study clearly indicates that tourism is vital to our local economy and its impact will only increase as Lehigh Valley positions itself as an entertainment-driven travel destination,” said Discover Lehigh Valley President Michael Stershic. “With the recent openings and expansions of large entertainment venues such as the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks and Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, among other attractions, I’d expect these numbers to trend upward in 2010-11 and beyond.”

Easton’s Sigal Museum, home to significant collections of pre-European settlement artifacts, decorative arts and textiles, opened in 2010. That same year, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem added table games to their impressive collection of culinary and live entertainment options. Looking forward, the Sands Casino Resort Hotel is scheduled to open in late May, 2011. Adjacent to Sands is the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, a dynamic, multi-use performing arts center that opened in April 2011.

About Discover Lehigh Valley

Discover Lehigh Valley is the designated tourist promotion agency of Lehigh and Northampton counties. Its mission is to promote and develop Lehigh Valley as a leisure and business travel destination. Created in 1984, Discover Lehigh Valley assists in promoting regional tourism, an industry that generates $1.5 billion in annual revenue and accounts for more than 22,000 jobs in Lehigh Valley. For more information on Discover Lehigh Valley and its activities or to request a Lehigh Valley Map & Guide, call (800) 747-0561, or visit the official tourism website of Lehigh Valley at www.DiscoverLehighValley.com.