(4/2017) Once again, another administration is attempting to rebrand the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with a catchy new slogan on the belief that it will somehow convince more tourists to come here and bring much-needed tourism dollars. However, the frequency with which we change these slogans means they are quickly forgotten, and with a $2 billion deficit, such a change
would cost Pennsylvania taxpayers millions of dollars that we can ill afford to spend right now.
If asked, many residents would likely have trouble naming more than two of our slogans though the following may ring familiar — "State of Independence," "Memories Last a Lifetime," "You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania" and "America Starts Here." I would guess that many taxpayers would want it to end here if they knew what the Commonwealth spends to develop a new campaign,
redesign and print new tourism brochures and materials, maps, road signs, commercials and other changes it deems necessary to lure tourists.
A member of the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee and the state representative from Gettysburg — Pennsylvania’s biggest tourism destination — I understand the value of marketing and promotion and I support it. In fact, a few years ago, I sponsored legislation — now law — that permits Adams County to generate more revenue for tourism promotion in the
county. While this helps to put destinations such as the Gettysburg, Carroll Valley, Ski Liberty, local wineries and other agri-tourism locations on the map, change for the sake of change is not a sound strategy.
Upon learning that the Wolf administration was ready to roll out yet another costly rebranding campaign, I decided to sponsor legislation to lock it in. Our new slogan, "Pennsylvania. Pursue Your Happiness," draws from the Declaration of Independence — signed in Philadelphia in 1776 — which to this day affords us the right to "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." I
am not passing judgement on how good or effective the campaign is, I simply want to ensure that it will not change anytime soon.
Perhaps, like me, some of your most memorable state slogans are from other states. "Virginia is for Lovers," "I love New York" and "Pure Michigan" are just a few that come to mind. Why? Those states kept the same program for several years and worked it. My bill would put our new slogan in statute, meaning that it could not be changed without legislation. This initiative
has the support of the tourism industry statewide.
Tourism is the second largest industry in Pennsylvania, generating about $40 billion into the state’s economy. Yet, in the past decade, the once $40 million annual tourism budget has been reduced to a little more than $3 million today. It is challenging to do the things that we once did with so little, but I believe we will be able to make our tourism dollars go further by
sticking with one promotion strategy and following it through.
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