Donna White

Donna White

The COVID-19 virus has been devasting to the $735 million-dollar (annual) travel industry of Adams County, which employees more than 5,000 of our local citizens. Destination Gettysburg has been communicating to the local travel industry, community partners, elected officials, and media outlets about the potential impact of this global pandemic since March 2020. Destination Gettysburg immediately launched a Three Phase Tourism Recovery Program, designed to provide our community and potential visitors, with a resource for factual, up-to-date information and insight into the safe return of visitors to Gettysburg and Adams County.

Looking back, 2020 started with record setting demand in January and February. By mid-March, COVID-19 emerged locally, and the travel industry saw significant impacts. In May of 2020, the effects of COVID-19 were felt far and wide in our community. Businesses were closing, business models were being re-evaluated, residents were quarantined at home and travel/tourism was being discouraged. Specifically, our hotel accommodations were seeing an almost 80% decline in occupancy, greatly affecting the funds with which Destination Gettysburg uses to promote Gettysburg and Adams County as a premier travel destination.

In mid-June, as the county moved into the Governor’s “green phase,” visitation started to increase and continued well into the fall. Overnight stays steadily increased and our weekend business was bustling. Specifically, by October, our hotel accommodations were reporting a modest 25% dip in occupancy, an increase of 55% since May. Weekend sellouts and wait times at restaurants once again came to a crashing halt in late-November as the surge of cases increased and state-wide restrictions were again in place. End of year reports shows hotel occupancy was down 39.6% for the year.

Early 2021 reports indicate that Occupancy and Average Daily Rate (ADR) are following normal trends for this time of year. Numbers continue to trend upward but behind 2020 numbers. Keep in mind that January and February were record setting months last year – just before the pandemic emerged. Tourism funding is currently down about 23% compared to last year. As vaccine availability and administration increase, we expect these numbers to increase, as well.

Destination Gettysburg uses industry and travel research as the foundation of marketing plan and strategy. We utilize traveler sentiment to determine when travelers will feel safe with overnight stays and the types of activities they are looking to experience during their planning process. The latest Travel Sentiment Study released by Destination Analysts, February 14, 2021 gives us some great insight into what travelers are thinking in regards to planning a trip. Below are some highlights from the research findings.

Travel Party On Next Leisure Trip

• 58.2% will travel with their spouse or partner.

• 34.8% will travel with their own children.

• 34.5% with any children.

Primary Trip Motivators

• 41.7% will spend time with family.

• 41.6% want to relax or escape.

• 31.2% want to just get away from daily life.

Trip Experiences Of Most Importance

• 50.3% are looking for outdoor recreation.

• 46.8 are looking for a new experience.

• 46.8% want the experience of food/culinary.

Planning Tasks Already Completed

• 26.1% have already researched destination to visit.

• 18.9% have already researched lodging options.

• 18.8% have already booked lodging.

Destination Gettysburg has a dedicated staff of great people, working very hard towards achieving a successful tourism recovery for Gettysburg and Adams County. While slower than we all want, the tourism industry is returning, and we are proud to be leading the charge.

Donna White is senior director of Destination Gettysburg.

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