By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
HUMMELS WHARF — Two new motels are on the horizon along the Strip just as a recent survey shows an increasing number of visitors are flocking to the area.
A new Holiday Inn Express is nearing completion adjacent the Comfort Inn on Routes 11-15 and another unidentified national chain is proposing to build a four-story motel next to Kohl’s Department store in Monroe Marketplace.
“I trust it’s a good indicator” the trend in the rising number of out-of-town visitors will continue, Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau Executive Director Andrew Miller said.
A recent survey by the bureau revealed visitor spending has doubled since 2010 when every $1 spent in advertising brought in $16.
Hoteliers in Shamokin Dam and Monroe Township responding to the survey said business travelers are their most frequent overnight guests, and the numbers aren’t expected to let up anytime soon, Miller said.
Surprisingly, though, the big draw in the Valley are local events.
“Festivals and events are huge and technology is playing a part in bringing people here,” he said, citing the survey, which showed people travel to the area specifically to attend annual events such as Selinsgrove’s Hops, Vines and Wines Festival in July, the four-day PIAA swimming and diving championship at Bucknell University in March and Mayfest Wine Festival in Mifflinburg.
The number of visitors who are returning to the area several times a year is also up dramatically.
The survey revealed the misconception that returning Bucknell and Susquehanna University alumni and family represented a large number of return visitors.
“It’s not necessarily the universities, but the towns that are the draw. People are discovering our towns and coming back,” Miller said. “Any town thinking of putting on an event should know that people will come for it.”
Pleased with the interest local hotel chains have in the county, the Snyder County commissioners surmised the area may be getting a boost from Marcellus Shale drilling and motorists heading to other destinations.
“We are a midway stopping point for many northern travelers,” Miller agreed, adding that the Valley hotels also benefit from high demand and limited hotel space in Lycoming County.
Another positive point learned from the survey respondents was that each one reported their first-time visit to the Valley exceeded their expectations.
“They’re receiving a welcoming and warm hospitality when they’re here,” he said.