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Op-Ed: Hispanic Heritage Month-Celebrating Latino Tourism in PA

By: George Fernandez – Founder & President, Latino Connection

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 through October 15), it’s important we pause to recognize the major contributions of the Latino community to Pennsylvania’s economy. Latinos make up 18.4 percent of the US population and 17.3 percent of the US labor force, which is expected to rise at least 30 percent by 2060. Nationally, the spending of this demographic amounts to around $870 billion in consumer expenditure annually.

The point of shining a light on these numbers is to demonstrate that our Latino population is deserving of recognition and celebration for the growth it drives within and beyond Pennsylvania’s borders. This demographic is the largest minority market in the U.S. and continues to expand briskly. In 2020, Latino buying power in the U.S. reached $1.9 trillion, which is larger than the GDP of Italy and only slightly smaller than the GDP of France.

Right here in Pennsylvania, the Latino community is our fastest growing population, accounting for more than 50% of the Commonwealth’s growth in the last two decades. According to the most recent census, Pennsylvania is now ranked #1 for the largest Latino population.

Latino Connection is proud to call Pennsylvania – and Dauphin County – home. One of our most recent community partnerships allows us to show that pride in a unique way as we work with Visit Hershey & Harrisburg (VHH) to power a new initiative designed to better reach prospective travelers in the Latino communities. This includes Pennsylvania as well as neighboring markets like New York and Maryland. As Dauphin County’s official Destination Marketing Organization, VHH drives local economic impact through tourism. Dauphin County’s tourism assets are many, with the sweet attractions of Hershey and the buzzing streets of the Capital City coming together to offer an exciting getaway destination for the Latino community.  

In our partnership with VHH, we are reaching the Latino community with a message that amplifies all the things to do, see, taste, and experience in the Dauphin County. In 2019, 211 million U.S. and international visitors spent a combined total of $46 billion in Pennsylvania alone. The Latino traveler unquestionably contributes to impactful spending.  Whether it is from our Latino residents who live, work, and play in PA and here in Dauphin County, or visitors coming in from other states and countries, this plays a major role in fueling growth in just about every other aspect of our local and regional economy.

As we work alongside VHH to support the tourism organization’s commitment to initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, we encourage our local residents and community leaders to not only take notice of the impact that these tourism-related efforts have on regional economic growth, but also to take pride in welcoming all guests of diverse cultures and backgrounds to the region.

As we kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s celebrate our Latino neighbors and business owners. Let’s celebrate the fact that we live and play in a vibrant, diverse destination that’s ripe with exciting things to do and see. Let’s celebrate the power of the Latino traveler, as we invite the Latino community to visit us not just during this month of celebration, but throughout the year.

Our team at Latino Connection is in the midst of an exciting multi-destination mobile tour touting Hershey & Harrisburg as a family-friendly destination for the Latino traveler. To see (and share!) more about the region’s tourism attractions, trails, and experiences, visit: www.visithersheyharrisburg.org/cultural-experiences/latino.

George Fernandez - Founder & CEO, Latino Connection HBG

George Fernandez Photo


Author: George Fernandez

Founder & CEO, Latino Connection