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Shapiro family embarks on RV trip for tourism campaign

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(The Center Square) — Pushing a dramatic funding expansion, Gov. Josh Shapiro embarked on a family RV trip on Monday to promote Pennsylvania’s new tourism brand.

Speaking at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders baseball stadium in Moosic, the governor argued his $18 million proposed budget increase for tourism would help sell Pennsylvania as “The Great American Getaway.”

“There is no partisanship when it comes to selling the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said. “This region demonstrates the opportunity we have when it comes to tourism and when it comes to economic development.”

The tourism push features a new video that highlights places across the commonwealth (with a voiceover from Pennsylvania native Abbi Jacobson, star of the New York-focused sitcom Broad City), with the branding running across Pennsylvania and New York throughout the summer.

Over the next week, the governor and his family plan to travel around the state making 50 stops in 14 counties.

“We are poised to do great things in Pennsylvania and investing in tourism is going to help us accomplish that,” Shapiro said. “The Shapiro-Davis administration is making tourism a top priority. For the first time in more than a decade, we have made it a central part of our economic development strategy — our roadmap that’s gonna drive opportunity and prosperity in our commonwealth for generations to come.”

A common refrain for many of his economic development speeches, he noted that Pennsylvania lags behind other states. New York, Michigan, and Illinois invest more in tourism, Shapiro said, and the $18 million proposed increase is a 60% boost.

More money, he argued, would bring in more visitors from the 72 million Americans who live within a four-hour drive of Pennsylvania.

Joe Massaro, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, said the tourism industry in the state hasn’t reached its full potential and could provide “seasonal jobs and lifelong careers.”

Citing a study from Oxford Economics, he argued over $15 billion in visitor spending and tax revenue was left on the table due to “inadequate state marketing investment.”

As part of selling the commonwealth as the Great American Getaway, the state’s tourism site offers guides to various parts of Pennsylvania to design an itinerary.

The tourism push follows efforts to grow outdoor recreation as well. The new Office of Outdoor Recreation looks to coordinate and better-assist the outdoor economy and earlier this spring funneled $200,000 for an Outdoor Business Alliance.

“You’ll find something here for everyone; that is why Pennsylvania is the Great American Getaway,” Shapiro said.

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