LAUREL HIGHLANDS, PA., (March 24, 2016) – Forty-two Somerset County tourism-related businesses and organizations were awarded a combined total of $197,489 during a presentation today at the Somerset Historical Center. Seventy-one applications were submitted for this year’s program.

The Annual Tourism Grant Program is funded by 40 percent of the Somerset County Lodging Tax which became effective September 2002. Awards are granted annually on the basis of merit as determined by the Somerset County Tourism Grant Review Committee and administered by the Somerset County Commissioners and the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau. Since the program’s inception, nearly $3.9 million has been awarded in tourism grants. 

“Somerset County provides a year-round destination for visitors who enjoy outdoor recreation like skiing, hiking and biking, as well as historic experiences, heritage exploration, agritourism and family getaways,” said Reneé Seifert, CEO of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau and a member of the review committee. “The Somerset County Tourism Grant Program is funded by the hotel and lodging 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, travelers spent more than $379 million in Somerset County in 2013. Overall visitor spending in the Laurel Highlands region, which consists of Westmoreland, Somerset and Fayette counties, totals $1.8 billion.

In addition to Mauck and Seifert, other grant review committee members included: George Coyle, General Manager of Somerset Med Services and the only committee member who has served for all 13 grant cycles, and two new committee members, Commissioner James Yoder and John Weir of PBS Coals.

For-profit and not-for-profit tourism-related businesses and organizations were eligible to apply in two categories: marketing/advertising programs and capital projects. Advertising programs are to be targeted to media that will reach potential visitors outside of Somerset County. Capital projects include improvements that benefit tourism and the visitors’ experience by developing new or enhancing existing visitor attractions or amenities. Visitor centers located along the Great Allegheny Passage were eligible for grant funds for staffing.

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.

To discover all that the Laurel Highlands has to offer, please call (724) 238-5661 or visit, and

Check out the 2016 Laurel Highlands Destination Guide!