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Delaware tourism industry poised for growth

James Morrison
Delaware Public Media

Experts say Delaware’s tourism industry is poised for recovery.

At the annual state tourism summit Thursday, a consultant presented the latest tourism data for Delaware. Andria Godfrey of Longwood International said travel to the state fell by 11.5% last year, a decline far less than that seen in other areas of the northeast.

She predicts the tourism industry is in a good position to see growth based on national trends, surveys that show Americans are eager to travel, and rave reviews. She notes 62% of First State visitors were highly satisfied with their last trip.

Tourism officials and Gov. John Carney, who also spoke at the summit, credit an abundance of

Carney at Tourism Summit
Rebecca Baer
Delaware Public Media
Gov. John Carney addresses tourism industry leaders and small business owners at the Delaware Tourism Summit.

outdoor activities. They also point to youth tournaments and other sporting events. Carney noted that next year, Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington is slated to host the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Championship and that the BMW Championship, a PGA tour event, will be held at the Wilmington Country Club.

There’s also what they call the “Biden effect.” Carney noted that the president routinely draws an entourage of staff and media to Delaware that fills hotel rooms. But Tourism Director Liz Keller says they’re not the only ones making an impact.

“We also have people that just want to be where the president is,” she said. “They want to try his favorite ice cream, they want to go to Capriotti’s and try the Bobby, so it’s going to be a lasting effect and we’re doing a lot of research and strategic planning on presidential tourism for the state.”

Gov. Carney also touted the state grants and federal assistance that kept tourism businesses afloat. He adds the industry is key to attracting a talented workforce.

“One of the most important aspects of our ability to be successful there is the attractions that we have,” he said. “Again, beaches, parks, bike paths, and hiking trails are all the kinds of things particularly that younger workers want to see where they decide to move.”

Looking ahead, he plans to invest additional federal resources into marketing Delaware as a destination and other efforts to drive tourism industry employment.