LEWISBURG — Summer business is not back to 100 percent of pre-pandemic level, but business is solid and hotels are optimistic that things are improving and coming back, said Andrew Miller, executive director, Susquehanna River Visitor’s Bureau.
Overall, most hotels are optimistic about how this summer is going, with the upcoming Little League World Series (LLWS) and the fall season soon upon us, Miller said.
This year international teams are returning to the competition — and that alone, with players and their families returning to the region, should greatly affect the local economy, said Jason Fink, president/CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.
$35 million“Last year, we didn’t have much of an opportunity to welcome fans,” Fink said. “It was a U.S. tournament. But this year the international teams are back and everyone is excited that this is the 75th Little League World Series.”
If you look at the previous economic impact on the region, Fink said, “because this event does not just impact Lycoming County. It has a regional impact. People will stay within a 60-mile radius of the county, that come here for the Series. You’re looking at somewhere over a $35 million impact over the two-week period.”
With all the activities associated with the Series adding another day and another four teams (to 20), in addition to the kickoff event on Aug. 15 with the Grand Slam Parade, Fink said, “it’s definitely now a two-week event that we are all excited about.”
Economic impactThe Little League World Series is back in full swing and the event producers expect full, pre-pandemic team and fan attendance, Miller said. “This expectation is music to the ears of our local lodging establishments and they have a solid base of reservations leading up to the big event.”
The big change in hotel reservations this year is that they are consistently made at the last minute — usually with a 2-3 day window. With that said, hotels feel they will get close to selling out over LLWS, if not already sold out.
It is estimated, Miller said, that the LLWS, conservatively, will bring in a little more than $2 million dollars in visitor spending to the Susquehanna River Valley in 2023.
“For the near future, all lodging establishments are realistic that COVID could impact reservations and visits at any given time,” he said. “The good news is that fall looks to be a very busy season for our hotels — both with new and rescheduled bookings for university events, sports teams and weddings.”
Hospitality comebackOne trend Miller and his members are happy to see is that “we’re getting more overnight stays from Penn State football home games because our room rates are much more attractive than those found in State College.”
The Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau is more than happy to promote overnight stays for PSU football fans who, by saving money in our hotels, can afford the gas to drive to PSU.
“If they drive out Routes 45 or 192, they will experience some of the most beautiful views of fall colors in the region,” Miller said.
Overall, there is a solid feeling of optimism that the hospitality industry, especially the lodging industry, is on its way to a full recovery.
Back in 2020, tourism/hospitality industry experts predicted that it would take 3 to 4 years to make a full recovery.
“It looks like we are on track for that prediction,” Miller said. “I’ll be hopeful that we may be ahead of that schedule with 2023 looking very positive for the industry and the Susquehanna River Valley.”