Visitors bureau director reflects on service

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The Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau will pass the torch this summer.

As she prepares for retirement, she’s reflecting on her more than 30 years of service to the Centre region.

Betsey Howell started working in the visitors bureau in 1981. She was hired as the secretary to the then-executive director.

Howell’s seen a shift in interest in Centre County, both nationally and locally. One of the biggest challenges now, she said, is adding sports venues.

“We have a significant amount of interest, but we do lack enough sports venues, not just form a tourism perspective, but from a community perspective,” she said.

She’s also seen an uptick in recreational use facilities.

“We’ve been named one of the top mountain biking areas in the country and I think once people get here and get a feel for what we have to offer, they love it and they want to come back again,” Howell said.

One of Howell’s biggest accomplishments is the addition of tourism grants for local nonprofits.

“We’ve given over $3 million in grants to these local organizations since the program’s inception,” she said. “It’s helped them tremendously in their marketing efforts and some with their capitol improvement projects as well, all aimed at tourism.”

A nationwide search for Howell’s replacement is underway. She’s set to retire on May 12.

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