Smethport Web — by Nathan Muller
At a meeting held at the Desert Rose Cafe in Smethport, 28 attendees from the region were introduced to the concept of “Trail Towns” during a joint presentation by the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau (ANFVB) and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (UPB).
The purpose of the meeting was to share ideas and identify resources and assets that would enable Smethport to market itself as a Trail Town that would attract more people to the local trails and draw them to the downtown area to visit shops, restaurants and other attractions.
Linda Devlin, executive director of the ANFVB, noted that tourists spend $1,000 to $1,500 per trip when they visit Forest region destinations in McKean County. That amounts to $175 million annually and 758 jobs that directly support tourism.
Devlin said tourists are more interested in the quality of their experience, rather than the number of destinations they can visit on one trip. This makes local resources like trails, recreation and outdoor activities, and historic sites important because they tend to keep people in the area longer. “The longer they stay, the more money they spend,” she said.
The Trail Town concept is intended to market these assets to attract more visitors, stimulate the local economy and attract new businesses to the area. This would also enhance the quality of life for residents.
Feedback from residents is being collected for a report and presentation of the results in December. Based on research and feedback, strategies will be identified for Trail Town development.
If you missed the Trail Town meeting, you can still participate by downloading the questionnaire, filling it out and mailing it to Dr. William Schumann at UPB. His mailing address is included on the form.