Thirty-two Fayette County tourism-related businesses and organizations were awarded a combined total of $455,936 during a presentation today at Magerko Auditorium, Penn State Fayette Campus. 

The Annual Tourism Grant Program is funded by 50 percent of the revenues generated by the Fayette County Hotel Room Tax, a three percent tax that became effective in 2008. Awards are granted annually on the basis of merit as determined by the Grant Review Committee and administered by the Fayette County Commissioners and the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. Since the program’s inception, nearly $3.5 million has been awarded in tourism grants. A complete list of grant recipients and their projects can be found online here.

“Fayette County and the Laurel Highlands provide a diverse destination for visitors who enjoy outdoor recreation, historic experiences, heritage exploration and family getaways,” said Reneé Seifert, CEO of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau and a member of the review committee. “The Fayette County Tourism Grant Program is funded by the hotel tax, which is paid by visitors who stay in the numerous hotels, resorts and bed and breakfasts in the county. This program helps tourism businesses to either enhance their attractions with amenities or increase marketing efforts to attract more visitors and generate overnight stays, which ultimately grows the county’s economy.” 

According to the most recent economic studies conducted by the Pennsylvania State Tourism Office, visitors spent more than $661 million in Fayette County in 2013. Overall visitor spending in the Laurel Highlands region, which consists of Westmoreland, Somerset and Fayette counties, totals $1.8 billion. 

The Fayette County Tourism Grant Review Committee was comprised of Ashli Mazer-Workman, Director of Public Relations & Marketing, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort; Tammy Stemson, McMillan Engineering; Warren Hughes, Fayette County Resident; and Reneé Seifert, President and CEO, Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. 

The recipients’ applications were selected based on the program’s criteria which include two categories; marketing and advertising programs and capital projects. Advertising programs are to be targeted to media that will reach potential visitors outside of Fayette County. Capital projects include improvements that benefit tourism and the visitors’ experience by developing new or enhancing existing visitor attractions or amenities.

About the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau®:
The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau is the destination marketing organization dedicated to promoting Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland counties in Pennsylvania. Established in 1958, the LHVB implements year-round seasonal marketing campaigns throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to enhance awareness of the Laurel Highlands as a travel destination, which increases overnight stays, generates jobs and contributes to the economic growth and quality of life for the region. 

The visitors bureau and its partners influence thousands of decision-makers and millions of visitors to choose the Laurel Highlands through direct sales, marketing, public relations, branding and visitor services. Destinations within the area include three architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater®, Kentuck Knob and Duncan House – Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, the Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone, whitewater rafting at Ohiopyle State Park and much more. 

Located within 200 miles of the major metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland and Washington D.C., the Laurel Highlands can be easily accessed from exits 67, 75, 91 and 110 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.