Legislative Committee on Tourism hears from Hampshire County

Residents shared their concerns and ideas related to arts, culture and tourism in the Pioneer Valley as state lawmakers debate the budget.

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – State lawmakers heard from Hampshire County residents Monday on ways to improve tourism.

Residents shared their concerns and ideas related to arts, culture and tourism in the Pioneer Valley as state lawmakers debate the budget.  Hampshire County has gained a reputation for it’s vibrant culture and business

Paradise City Arts Festival Organizer, Linda Post said, “Bringing culture into a community it’s a great way to attract tourism and attract a strong economic base for the community. ”

The Joint Legislative Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development held a hearing for Hampshire County residents Monday at the UMass, Amherst Fine Arts Center in their statewide listening tour.

In Hampshire County there are about 900 jobs that are directly based on hospitality and another 3500 jobs based on tourism, and they’re all heavily reliant on people coming from out of state.

The competition is being felt from similar markets like New York where they are investing more into advertising.

Suzanne Beck, of the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council said, “Recognizing that our visitor could be going to New York when we really want to keep them here in Massachusetts.”

Senator Eric Lesser says that for every dollar spent on tourism there is a seven fold return on investment. “It’s very simple. Tourism, Arts and culture are a huge driver of jobs. When people come to western Mass, when they come to the Pioneer Valley they spend money here they spend the night they go to our restaurants. It creats jobs, it employs people, it helps the economy.”

Tourism is the states third largest industry. The House Budget is funding the Tourism Councils at $6 million which is level with last year.  The Senate will be deliberating funding for both the Mass Office of Tourism and the Regional Tourism Councils in the near future.

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