Economic power of tourism discussed

January 18, 2013
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The cover of the new Washington County destination guide
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Rick Shrum / Observer-Reporter
Carolyn Boser Newhouse, an official with the state Department of Community and Economic Development, spoke Friday at Southpointe. Order a Print

As a Pennsylvania employee, Carolyn Boser Newhouse was entitled to drive from Harrisburg to Southpointe in a state car. She obviously didn’t feel a sense of entitlement.

“I took the Megabus for $17,” said Newhouse, the featured speaker Friday at the Washington County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly breakfast briefing at the Hilton Garden Inn, Cecil Township. “Why take a state car when the Megabus costs $17? I’m all about the Megabus.”

She didn’t have to be in this instance, of course. But, as deputy secretary for innovation and investment with the Department of Community and Economic Development, Newhouse has a keen understanding of economics – and of being frugal. Her office is responsible for generating business in the commonwealth and promoting tourism, while watching expenses. She said her department is down 40 percent in people and financing.

Newhouse gave a presentation on business and tourism before a breakfast meeting of about 200 that included state Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, and county commissioners Larry Maggi and Harlan Shober. The breakfast also included food for thought: The 2013 Washington County Destination Guide, a splashy 80-page booklet, was unveiled. Also, booths featuring some of the county’s top attractions were set up outside the meeting room.

“The guide speaks to all who come to Washington County,” said J.R. Shaw, executive director of the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency.

The Pennsylvania Tourism Office is under Newhouse’s aegis. She says its “goal is to market the state,” within its borders and in contiguous states.

“I believe in generating the understanding that tourism is an economic driver,” said Newhouse, a University of Pittsburgh graduate. “People like to think of this as leisure and travel, but it’s more than that. In an economic situation like this, every job counts and tourism can drive that.”

She pointed out in a PowerPoint that tourism and related businesses are, collectively, the No. 3 employer in Washington County with 8,904 employees.

That industry here will get a boost from the destination guide, which includes the slogan, “Bring the energy. Bring yourself.” It is the first comprehensive publication undertaken by the chamber and the tourism agency.

The guide has comprehensive lists of Washington County dining locations, hotels, businesses, schools, recreation spots, event venues and other organizations. There also are maps, contact information for municipalities and a calendar of events for the year, among other things.

It’s glossy, colorful and easy to read – and plentiful. About 240,000 were printed.

Oh, and the guide is further proof that it’s a big county out there.

The destination guide is free and can be picked up at the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency, 273 S. Main St., Washington, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won seven individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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