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Youth Sports Tournaments County's Fastest-Growing Tourism Sector

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The Philadelphia Inquirer
October 19, 2013 Saturday
CITY-D Edition
PHILADELPHIA; P-com News Local; Pg. B02
316 words
Youth sports spurs Bucks tourism
By Ben Finley; Inquirer Staff Writer

DOYLESTOWN Youth sports tournaments have become the fastest-growing sector of Bucks County's tourism industry, the county's tourism promotion agency said Friday at its annual meeting.

The Pony National Softball Championships were held on fields throughout lower Bucks in July, attracting more than 10,000 people who booked more than 2,000 hotel rooms. The county also hosted the Patriot Games, a boys' lacrosse tournament, which drew the same number of people.

"Sometimes the biggest problem we have is getting enough fields," said Jerry Lepping, executive director of the Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau.

Lepping said those and other tournaments made up for the dip in visitors to places such as the Sesame Place amusement park. Lepping blamed the dip on this summer's rainy days.

Weddings and conferences still provide a large chunk of the more than $800 million tourism brings in each year. That generates about $117 million in federal, state, and local taxes each year, and produces more than 11,000 jobs.

Paul Bencivengo, marketing and communications director for Visit Bucks County, said Bucks was increasingly promoting itself through social media, encouraging visitors to upload photos of their trips. The county also is participating in the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp.'s campaign to attract more gay tourists, whose slogan is "Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay."

"We are competing for global dollars because we have a global asset in Bucks County," said Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, the meeting's keynote speaker. "One of the things that often gets lost is how vital tourism dollars are to a particular area."

Lepping said the next big tourism draw in the county would be an exhibit at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown dedicated to Grace Kelly that opens Oct. 28.

"That's going to be bananas," he said.

610-313-8118

@Ben_Finley

October 19, 2013

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