Early Data Shows Strong Summer Tourism Season for Erie
It looks as if the year 2023 brought another strong summer tourism season to Erie.
According to early numbers, John Oliver, President and CEO of VisitErie, the organization that promotes Erie's tourism industry, hotel revenue is up 8% from one year ago, continuing a 3-year trend.
"You know the numbers that we've seen so far and the trends show an increase in visitation and occupancy in our hotels," Oliver said. "The numbers being generated through the hotels all are very positive."
Presque Isle State Park, Lake Erie and Waldameer are the main attractions, but Oliver said shopping and Splash Lagoon on upper Peach Street figure in the data too.
Zartico, a data partner for VisitErie, is giving the tourism specialists a better picture of where visitors to Erie are coming from and what attractions they visit once they arrive.
That information has VisitErie targeting its marketing to some specific audiences, the Gen Z population, millennials with kids and empty nesters. "We've seen numbers that show they're coming in increasing numbers and so we decided let's try to focus on those groups," Oliver said.
And after learning that people from Buffalo and western NY don't visit Erie in the summer months, heading instead to the Finger Lakes region or Canada, Oliver said VisitErie decided to focus advertising and marketing dollars instead on some potential new markets.
Those markets include Akron in Ohio and Johnstown, Altoona, and Harrisburg in Pennsylvania. "We were starting to see some numbers that showed people were visiting from there and we thought well let's take advantage of that and promote ourselves in the summer because we really are the beach for anyone in Pennsylvania since no one has the kind of beaches we do."
Oliver said already fall tourism looks promising for the Erie region, with 5 conventions scheduled for September, one with more than 1,000 visitors expected, as well as ten scheduled sporting events during the month. "September and October have continually seen growth every year and have become a strong part of our shoulder season."
VisitErie is also able to keep tabs on Erie County's growing short term rental properties through a tool called AirDNA. In October of 2014 there were 4 such properties in the county. In July of 2023, Oliver said there were 274.