Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays! By now everyone is ready for Christmas, presents have been bought and wrapped, and we are all eager to see if Santa brings us what we wished for on our Christmas list.
We at the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency sent in our list a long time ago, and we’d like to share what we asked for this year.
First, let’s recap how we fared on last year’s wishes. The list featured wishes for a bipartisan Grand Budget Bargain from Congress; more good work from the United States Travel Association and the Pennsylvania Association of Travel & Tourism in promoting and advocating for travel to the United States and Pennsylvania; legislative movement for the creation of a viable public-private partnership for attracting visitors to the commonwealth; and continued strong alliances with our local stakeholders.
Santa delivered on three out of four wishes, making for a pretty stuffed stocking for this year.
USTA and PATT have tirelessly toiled to advocate tourism as an engine for economic prosperity for America and the commonwealth; the Pennsylvania Tourism Partnership is laying the groundwork for development of a compelling brand and strategic plan for marketing Pennsylvania tourism; and support and participation in programs sponsored by the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency reached record levels in 2013, providing value for all stakeholders in the county tourism and hospitality industry. Way to go, Santa!
Now let’s look at this year’s list, but let’s switch things up a bit. This year we’ve put together a wish list for some of our friends, neighbors and partners in tourism in Washington County.
For our friends at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, we wish for a mild winter, dry spring and summer, and no underground surprises as they break ground on their long awaited hotel and commercial developments on Racetrack Road, the latest in a long string of major capital investments made by the casino and its owners. The Racetrack Road destination continues to evolve before our eyes, enticing travelers to the area for gaming, shopping, dining and entertainment. Come to think of it, this wish goes out to all those mounting big construction projects in 2014 ‑ fair skies and busy job sites to all.
Likewise, for all other tourism assets on Racetrack Road including Tanger Outlets, the Shoppes at Quail Acres, our many superb and varied hotels, restaurants, retail and businesses, we wish for further developments on the south side of the street in 2014. Rumor has it that big plans may be in store for available land on top of the hill as well as at ground level, so let’s hope the long-awaited next big thing finally starts to bust loose this year.
We wish continued success and even better days for our friends who represent our county heritage and history sites, such as the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, Meadowcroft Rockshelter & Historic Village, the David Bradford and LeMoyne houses, Duncan & Miller Glass Museum, the National Road Heritage Corridor, and others. And let’s put our unique fairs, festivals, parks and special events in this wish list, too. PONY, Pumpkin, Apple, Covered Bridge, 4th of July, Wine & Jazz, Farm Heritage, fairs and farmers markets, trails and town parks, Wild Things, rebels and The Rebellion, from Donora to Avella, Midway to Marianna and everything between.
It is the unique history and heritage of Washington County that draws tour groups, individual leisure travelers, and friends and relatives to our area to visit. And those unique qualities likewise entice business and industry to ultimately invest in our communities, contributing to our increasing quality of life.
Finally, in this season of light, we wish for hope, peace, joy, and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
Travel safely, Santa!
J.R. Shaw is executive vice president of the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency.