Health of Montgomery County Residents and Guests Remains Top Priority for County Officials and Tourism Board as Hotel and Business Operations Remain Open and Welcome Visitors

The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) wants visitors, and residents, to know that the county remains ready to welcome out-of-county guests, and locals who may be staying closer to home due to health concerns with the evolving COVID-19 situation.

“As an organization that works closely with tourist and guests both internationally and domestically, the health and well-being of our county residents remains a top priority to the VFTCB,” said Mike Bowman, President & CEO of the VFTCB. “We are taking the Coronavirus situation very seriously by monitoring it closely, but we’re still trying to remain optimistic and are encouraged by the business and foot traffic we’re still seeing. With the warmer weather on the horizon, we’re hoping  it will entice folks to get out, unplug, and enjoy all that Montco has to offer.”

Tourism is a robust industry for Montgomery County – contributing $1.65 billion in positive economic impact and more than 20,000 jobs. To ensure the highest level of safety for guests and individuals who visit and work in Montgomery County, Bowman said Montco businesses and hotels are elevating their cleaning protocol to reduce the spread of germs.

“It’s our job to help fill the 9,200 rooms in our 80 hotels, and we’re going to continue working on doing that to the best of our ability by providing the most up-to-date guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” Bowman said.

Although there are currently no confirmed cases in Pennsylvania as of March 5, officials from the Montgomery County Office of Public Health and the Department of Public Safety are working to put necessary protocols in place, in addition to existing policies that deal with infectious disease outbreaks, according to a Digital First Media interview Montgomery County Commissioners’ Chairwoman, Val Arkoosh. There are two presumptive positive cases in New Jersey, officials said.

Bowman echoed Arkoosh’s statements that there is no need to be alarmed due to the current low risk, and also encouraged people to stay well-informed, and practice good health habits such as washing their hands, coughing into their elbows, and staying home if they’re sick.

“We have full faith in our county government and health leaders that Montgomery County is prepared,” Bowman said. “And, we will share any necessary information with visitors as well. But, in the meantime, we still have a job to do.”

Bowman is participating in regular conference calls with regional officials – as well as the U.S. Travel Association – to update the VFTCB team, the organization’s members, and visitors. The VFTCB had been scheduled to participate in the ITB Berlin trade show, which German government and health officials cancelled due to concerns over the Coronavirus situation.

The VFTCB is also paying close attention to Brand USA’s messaging as well, while monitoring the ongoing situation through the CDC to share information with partners, and colleagues. The nonprofit specifically reached out to hoteliers, clients, and other partners to share information on the impact of the worldwide Coronavirus situation on travel and tourism, and offer support and assistance.

China is Montgomery County’s first highest overseas visitor market. In Q1 of 2019, China’s spend in Montgomery County was $2.7 million, according to a VisaVue report, which analyzes Visa Card holder’s spending.

PA state government and health officials on March 5 announced updated travel guidance for anyone arriving from China or Iran anytime during the outbreaks there, or Italy or South Korea within the past 14 days, saying those residents should stay home and practice social distancing for 14 days, and call 1-877-PA-HEALTH. Those residents can return to a regular routine after 14 days, and Pennsylvanians should avoid all unnecessary travel to and from countries with a CDC level 3 travel advisory, according to PA Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine.

The U.S. Travel Association doesn’t expect an impact on domestic tourism. And, officials at the CDC continue to believe the risk of Coronavirus exposure to the American public remains low. There are no current recommendations for any limitations on travel within the U.S., officials said.

All of the current expert advice indicates that business and leisure travel in the U.S. can, and should, continue as normal, and previous events show that travel is quick to rebound after health-related downturns, officials said.

The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) is a nonprofit, membership-based sales and marketing organization that actively promotes Valley Forge and Montgomery County, PA as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 500+ member hotels, restaurants, attractions, and services. The award-winning website links visitors, meeting planners, tour operators, and residents to a diverse portfolio of brands focused on reasons to visit the region.