Kathy Lamont grew up fishing at Prince Gallitzin State Park in Patton. It’s a tradition she carried on with her own children.
“We were outside all of the time when I was growing up,” Lamont said.
Now, she’s working to boost the economy and tourism in northern parts of Cambria County, which she said, are often overshadowed by larger cities like Johnstown or Ebensburg.
Lamont is the community development director for the Northern Cambria Community Development Corporation (NCCDC). Last week, the non-profit, PRIDE of Cambria North and the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Visitors Bureau held a meeting on tourism. Their idea is to market outdoor recreational opportunities, like camping, hiking, fishing, biking or ATV trail at Rock Run. Prince Gallitzin State Park gets about 1.8 million visits every year.
“Even some of our own population here do not realize everything that we have in our own backyard,” Lamont said.
The question now is: how do you get folks who have come to the region for hiking, biking or fishing and get them to visit the communities and spend their money?
Matt Barczak is the executive director of the NCCDC. He said small municipalities in the area need to work together.
“Everyone has something to offer, but not one as an individual has enough to offer,” Barczak said. “We need to take a focus in how to attract outside consumers, tourism to our region as a whole.”
They said that restaurants, bed and breakfasts and businesses need to market themselves and their hours wisely. Tools like social media, ads or banners could help.
“If people are fishing, they’re not spending money, but they want to go do stuff when they’re done fishing,” Barczak said.
New festivals or events could attract people, too. Prince Gallitzin State Park plans to host movie nights, winter festivals and offer pontoon boat tours. Park and NCCDC officials are working together to build a trail that will connect the park to nearby towns. They are waiting to hear back about a grant they applied for to build the trail, worth about $500,000.
Lamont said, when it comes to tourism, the possibilities are endless: all she sees is untapped potential.
“To find those little diamonds in the rough, to polish them up and to get the word out,” Lamont said.
However, it’s up to the folks up north to see the vision and make it happen.
To stay up to date about future tourism meetings, which will be held about every month, check out the NCCDC’s Facebook page.