On the last full day of summer, we took a look at how summer tourism has bounced back since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
Tourism experts said the Erie region is even doing better than neighboring cities. One business owner said despite employee shortages, this was a busy summer.
He said things are beginning to normalize after the pandemic. In the final days of summer, we heard from tourism experts about business in the region.
John Oliver, president of VisitErie, said tourism and visitation has bounced back. He added that business is exceeding pre-pandemic years, and attributed this to outdoor attractions like Waldameer and the beaches of Presque Isle.
“We’re also seeing more people who are coming in and doing Wine Country and even the Ale Trail, so those attractions seem to be doing very well, and we’ve heard from Waldameer that they had one of their best years attendance-wise,” said John Oliver, president of VisitErie.
The owner of several Bayfront businesses said while this summer’s numbers exceeded those of pre-pandemic years, the season still had its challenges.
“Our numbers this year were very good at all of our establishments. The thing that we lacked was of course employees. But as far as customers, we certainly had plenty of those,” said Tim Sedney, local business owner.
“Of course, all of our attractions and facilities still are struggling with employment, and being able to have enough staff to remain open the hours that they would like to,” Oliver added.
Sedney told us business was great at Rum Runners and Woodys, as well attractions including Scallywags Pirate Adventures and Lady Kate Boat Tours.
He said there is still room for more development on the Bayfront.
“You need more of that retail end of things. Maybe another restaurant, but that would be about it. I don’t know if it would support it, because you don’t have the parking down here. That’s the biggest problem. But certainly, we all support each other, and that’s the way it should be when you’re in a tight-knit little community down here on the Bayfront like we are,” said Sedney.
Sedney said boat tour sales were up about seven percent compared to pre-pandemic years.