Bucks County ads highlight outdoor activities

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A digital billboard highlights Bucks County as a tourist designation for those wishing to visit the breweries.  The ad was crafted before Governor Tom Wolf issued an order closing all bars and restaurants from Dec. 12 to Jan. 4 due to the pandemic.

Despite the skyrocketing rise in coronavirus cases that have led to travel restrictions and restaurant and entertainment closures, advertisements promoting Bucks County as a great place to visit are appearing on television and other media around the world. the region.

Not only do they highlight visits to Bucks now during the holidays, but officials say it’s an important marketing tool for the county’s $1.1 billion tourism industry, which employs some 29,000 people, after the pandemic.

Visit Bucks County President and COO Paul Bencivengo said the ads, which were created and began airing long before the final shutdowns were cleared on Thursday, aim to show people that they can still visit, with the theme “We are open” and enjoy outdoor attractions. They are also designed to help promote the long-term survival of the county’s tourism industry.

“As we move forward into December, some of our messaging is changing to encourage consumers to consider Bucks County for future trips with images of spring and the outdoors. We are also encouraging the donation of future trips to once again support the ‘hotel industry’, Bencivengo noted.

Visit Bucks County, the county tourist office, received $3.7 million in federal CARES Act money from the county in August to deal with the effects of the pandemic, and is using that money to entice visitors to come here to see the bucolic countryside, holiday events and more.

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But with Gov. Tom Wolf ordering the closure of restaurants and indoor entertainment venues from Saturday through Jan. 4 – just over the Hanukkah holiday – some viewers of these tourist ads are wondering if the fund could be better spent directly helping people. people affected by the bar. and restaurant closures.

Eben Copple, director of hospitality for Genesis Hospitality Group, owner of the Yardley Inn and Washington Crossing Inn, thinks more aid should be allocated to help those directly affected – not just waiters and waitresses who may be laid off by order of the Governor, but the linen supply companies, farmers, truckers, cleaners and others who support the hospitality industry.

“These are people who are really affected. We are able to weather the storm. I don’t know if the suppliers will be. That’s the tragedy about it – all the damage,” he said. , noting the Yardley Inn and The Washington Crossing Inn offer outdoor dining, which the Yardley Inn may continue to offer in its heated tent, and restaurants will continue to offer takeout.

Since the governor’s closures were announced on Thursday, Bencivengo said Visit Bucks County has been trying to “pivot” some of its messaging to support restaurants and bars, “to encourage people to do takeout, buy gift cards (in restaurants). It helps to raise awareness of the hospitality industry. We need to let people know to take action to support them.

He said the agency would begin collecting deals and specials from restaurants, breweries, wineries and others to promote while they are open under the new restrictions.

The county also provided restaurants and other small businesses with $26 million under the CARES Act funding relief and safety supplies through three rounds of grant distributions, county chief operating officer Margie said. McKevitt.

Sowing tourism beyond the pandemic

County Commissioner Chairwoman Diane Ellis Marseglia said the CARES Act specifically allows subsidies for tourism. The county has received more than $100 million from the federal government to help fund its response to the impacts of COVID. Eligible expenses are wide ranging, including election fees and internet connectivity for students, money to address homelessness and support businesses, to name a few.

“Tourism is a major driver of spending in Bucks County,” Marseglia said. “We are trying to help our hospitality and tourism survive the suffering they have endured since last March. These advertisements are helping now, but they are essential to seed tourism for the spring and summer. The number of visits on the Bucks County website has been great and is a predictor of future tourism.”

Commissioner Bob Harvie added that this year’s marketing focused on local “microtourism” because people don’t travel far.

The advertisements and commercials are being shown on television and digitally as well as on billboards in New York, Washington DC and the Harrisburg area, Bencivengo said.

Bencivengo said CARES funds must be allocated by Dec. 30, but advertisements and commercials covered by the contracts can continue into next year. He also noted that TV ads can seem like a lot now because the county couldn’t get a lot of airtime before the election when all of the campaign ads for the candidates were airing.

And some of the funds are used to target business travelers, who may see Bucks as an ideal location to establish a new industrial or office site. “The tourism board is also working with the county to market other industries to raise their profile and encourage future investment,” he said.

Make an impact now — and later

At Peddler’s Village in Lahaska, COO Bob McGowan said Visit Bucks County advertisements and signage have provided “tremendous local support for the village…Because we’re outdoors, the people feel very comfortable.”

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He noticed that many visitors are now working from home. They do day trips during the week, which help reduce weekend crowds to see the village’s Christmas lights while strolling among its 60 shops.

McGowan said the village is trying to promote itself, but not too much. He wants a steady, non-overwhelming number of visitors, in order to protect them and employees through social distancing.

Visit Bucks County’s TV ads also promote the Shady Brook Farm light show in Lower Makefield and the new “Furry and Bright” tour at Sesame Place in Middletown, and they want to inspire people to visit longer the next year when vaccinations are available, the pandemic subsides and life will hopefully return to normal, officials said.

At Sesame Place, spokeswoman Dana Ryan said the county’s tourist advertisements have helped promote the riding experience, where people can safely entertain their children. The amusement park will remain open during the shutdown due to its outdoor attractions, but reservations are required.

The ads, she said, “are a welcome break from the regular news.”

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McGowan said the ads and advertisements help local tourist sites, including Peddlers Village, “market forward.”

“They” plan the seeds for the future. It’s absolutely essential for us,” he said. “We’re just trying to survive now.”

Bencivengo said the Bucks Tourist Board realizes this and adverts will now say: ‘We look forward to welcoming you back.’

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