The Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau is changing its name to the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau. The organization said it hopes the name recognition that comes with “Happy Valley” will attract more visitors and boost the local economy.
Fritz Smith, president and CEO of the bureau, said that while Happy Valley is closely associated with the State College area and Penn State, the bureau will work on expanding its reach across the region.
“We think that there's all sorts of good results we can produce in incorporating Penns Valley, and Moshannon Valley and Bald Eagle Valley into the message,” Smith said.
Smith said tourism is a competitive business and Centre County has room to grow as a destination. He pointed to a study the bureau commissioned, which estimates 4.3 million people visited Centre County last year.
“What will be a successful outcome of all of this activity? It will be to get that number up to 4.5 million,” Smith said. “And if we're having this conversation in a couple of years, maybe someday we'll be talking about 5 million.”
The bureau hopes the rebranding campaign will increase the number of visitors Centre County sees, how much money visitors spend and how long they stay. Smith hopes the campaign will increase local hotel occupancy by 5% to meet the state and national average of about 65%.
Tim Bowser is the manager of Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks in Millheim and a board member of the bureau. He said he was skeptical about the new name at first, but came to see the benefits.
“I think this approach opens the gate wider for all of us to get under it,” Bowser said. “And it will take a little bit of focused work, but I do believe that it'll happen.”