LAUREL HIGHLANDS, PA., (Jan. 25, 2018) – Thirty-six Westmoreland County tourism-related businesses and organizations were awarded a combined total of $306,059 during a presentation today at The Palace Theatre. Sixty applications were submitted for this year’s program.

The Annual Tourism Grant Program is funded by one-third of the revenues generated by the Westmoreland County Hotel Room Tax, a three percent tax that became effective in 2003. Awards are granted annually on the basis of merit as determined by the Grant Review Committee and administered by the Westmoreland County Commissioners and the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau (LHVB). Since the program’s inception, more than $4.9 million has been awarded in tourism grants. A complete list of grant recipients and their projects can be viewed online at

“Westmoreland County and the Laurel Highlands provide a diverse destination for visitors who enjoy historic experiences, heritage exploration, outdoor recreation and family getaways,” said Ann Nemanic, Executive Director of the LHVB. “In 2018, Westmoreland County will expand on those opportunities. We will see continued expansion of the Westmoreland Heritage Bike Trail, more recreational opportunities throughout our county park system and big name entertainment coming to the Palace Theatre. New attractions at the Lincoln Highway Experience will allow visitors to enjoy pie and coffee in the restored 1938 Serro’s roadside diner and peek inside a historic tourist cabin. We see winter hours being offered at Fort Ligonier and new exhibits and events at The Westmoreland Museum of American Art. Westmoreland County continues to see a steady growth in restaurants, retail and the craft brewery industry.  It is exciting to the see the county embrace visitors with so many diverse offerings.”

According to the most recent economic studies conducted by the Pennsylvania State Tourism Office, visitors spent more than $753 million in Westmoreland County in 2015. Overall visitor spending in the Laurel Highlands region, which consists of Westmoreland, Somerset and Fayette counties, totals more than $1.8 billion.

The Westmoreland County Tourism Grant Review Committee was comprised of Michael Langer, Executive Director, Westmoreland Cultural Trust; Carol Wentzel, a retired Westmoreland County employee; Michael Simons, SpringHill Suites by Marriott Pittsburgh-Latrobe; Mary Lou Hugus, retired Hempfield Area School District teacher; and Ann Nemanic, Executive Director, LHVB.

About Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands

A magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located east of Pittsburgh, the beautiful four-season destination offers some of the most spectacular natural scenery, outstanding outdoor recreation, historic sites and attractions, classic family activities and world-class resorts. Notable destinations within the region include three architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob, and Duncan House – Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone, whitewater rafting at Ohiopyle State Park and 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.

Visitors to the Laurel Highlands can find information online at, calling 800.333.5661, and Established in 1958, the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.