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Economy & Business

As Pittsburgh Gains National Attention, Its Economy Receives a Boost from Tourism

Jessica Nath
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has been described as “hip,” “organic” and “authentic” by a slew of travel publications over the past few years, but what does all this recognition mean for the city and its residents?

It means money and a boost in the economy, according to Craig Davis, CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH, Susan Corbett, the First Lady of Pennsylvania, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

They gathered Tuesday at PNC Park, voted one of the best views in the country, in recognition of Pittsburgh being named as a “Top 10 All-American Travel Destinations” by the Travel Channel.

“The number of travelers experienced its highest growth rate since the recession, in 2012, with the state welcoming an estimated 192 million domestic and international travelers,” Mrs. Corbett said.

Also in 2012, travel and tourism-related economic activity supported more than 470,000 jobs directly and indirectly, which is 6.5 percent of Pennsylvania’s total employment, according to VisitPITTSBURGH.

About four million hotel rooms in Allegheny County generated almost half a billion dollars last year, according to Smith Travel Research.

In total, tourism had a regional economic impact of $5.4 billion in 2012.

“Ten years ago, who would have even mentioned or have even thought of the fact that Pittsburgh could be mentioned in the same breath as being the “best of” in terms of vacation and visiting,” Davis said. “That tells so much about our community, about the place that we live that it is a place that people want to come and visit, they want to spend their money here and that’s what we’re all about.”

Davis believes the accolades all began in 2012 when National Geographic Traveler named the city “One of the Top 20 Destinations in the World to Visit.”

Since then, Pittsburgh has also been recognized in Esquire, Movoto, Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast.

Davis said the city lives up to its descriptions as “authentic” and “real.”

“Those of us who have lived in Pittsburgh or are from here, you know that that’s one of the base things,” Davis said. “People are genuinely friendly here, it’s what attracted me to the city, it’s what has kept me here for years, it is - I think - an experience that is not shared by a lot of big cities around the country.”

Fitzgerald said Pittsburgh has a little bit of everything for everyone ranging from sports to arts and culture – which is Mrs. Corbett’s favorite attraction when she revisits her husband’s home town.

So what’s next for the city?  VisitPITTSBURGH has launched a campaign trying to attract even more travelers.

VisitPITTSBURGH has purchased advertisements in different publications such as the Washington Post as well as big city locations such as Times Square.

“When you receive an award or recognition from the Travel Channel, which everybody understands what the Travel Channel is, if you have a television, then you have the Travel Channel,” Davis said. “And that we understood was something that the average person would say ‘wow’ and we wanted to put our money into these big markets because they I think would be very interested in an all-American vacation.”

The campaign began in July and will run until September.