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Western Mass. Tourist Sites Promoted In Pennsylvania

A first ever collaborative effort is under way to jointly promote tourist attractions in the Berkshires and the greater  Springfield area in Massachusetts.

   A bus carrying two dozen people representing many of the top tourist attractions in western Massachusetts departed from the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield Tuesday morning bound for Pennsylvania.  The group has meetings scheduled over the next three days with 17 tour operators to sell the region as an ideal destination for group bus trips.

   The sales trip was put together by the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Berkshire Visitors Bureau.  Lauri Klefos, President and CEO of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, said it marks the first time the five  regional tourism councils in western Massachusetts have collaborated to promote attractions jointly.

   Pennsylvania was chosen for the sales pitch because it is home to a large number of group tour operators and its distance from Massachusetts would necessitate tourists stay at least one night.

   Tour group operators typically book trips during the off season or during the middle of the week.

   An estimate a few years ago from the American Bus Association said all together, visitors on a bus spend an average of $11,000 a day. Multiple that by a few hundred bus trips a year and it can be a big boost to the regional economy according to Mary Kay Wydra, president of the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    One of the tourism professionals on the bus trip to Pennsylvania is Jason Lyon associate director for group ticket sales at Tanglewood. He estimated group bus tours now account for about 10 percent of his business.

   Kathy Fiore, one of the owners of the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens in South Deerfield, brought what she hopes will be some memorable sales material on the trip.

   Other tourism sites  that sent representatives on the trip include the Norman Rockwell Museum, Yankee Candle Village, Museums10, the Eastern States Exposition and Six Flags New England.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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