Franklin County Visitors Bureau attracting tourists

— By PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

Franklin County is now a destination.

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau, Inc. has been working tirelessly to promote the area as a genuine experience, executive director Janet Pollard told Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce members at their July 22 breakfast meeting.

They marketed heavily in the Washington D.C. region and to the population within a three-hour radius of the county.

“Surprisingly, we attract a lot of people from New York,” Pollard said. “They just keep driving after Lancaster.”

The bureau separated from the county, where it had been a department, and incorporated in 2013. It moved to 37 S. Main St., Chambersburg, and hired a graphic designer and office manager. It now operates as a non-profit agency, with a 15-member board of directors, and continues to draw funding from the hotel room tax.

Pollard cited the many reasons Franklin County was a valued place to visit - the towns were involved in the retreat from Gettysburg, the Battle of Monterey Pass was significant in the Civil War, frontier history was highlighted at the Conococheague Institute and Allison-Antrim Museum. There was live theatre, downhill skiing, skydiving, golf, hiking and camping.

“Most people say, ‘It’s so beautiful here.’”

The fourth “1864: Ransoming, Burning & Rebirth of Chambersburg” show brought 10,000 people from numerous states to Chambersburg on July 19. They ate in restaurants and stayed in local lodging.

“This event has a ‘wow’ factor,” she said, and the Visitors Bureau planned to continue it each summer. It was now focusing on drawing tourists for the fall foliage.

Her team was busy promoting Franklin County on social media and traditional information outlets, and had discovered one-third of seekers found the bureau website on phone apps. The growth of interest in southcentral Pennsylvania was encouraging.

Pollard said, “For the same reason people like to live here, they like to visit.”