Sen. Eric P. Lesser, Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, hosted a Hampshire County listening tour May 9 at the UMass Fine Art Center.
“The Pioneer Valley is home to some of our state’s most cherished cultural attractions and institutions, supporting thousands of jobs and attracting tens of thousands of visitors. I’m proud to represent this vibrant region and to make sure we receive our fair share of support from Beacon Hill,” Sen. Lesser said. “I’m glad the Committee visited to see first-hand and to hear directly from Pioneer Valley residents.”
The listening tour was part of a statewide series headed by Sen. Eric Lesser and Rep. Cory Atkins, committee co-chairs. Legislators from the committee and representatives from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, and the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Committee joined community members, artists and local business owners to discuss the economic impact the arts, culture and tourism have on Hampshire County, and Western Massachusetts more broadly.
Tourism is the third-largest revenue-producing industry in the Commonwealth. In 2014, domestic and international visitors spent $19.5 billion in the state. Statewide, the tourism industry has grown 20 percent during the last decade and employs 132,000 people.
Visitors spent nearly $146 million in Hampshire County alone and support 870 jobs. An additional 3,300 jobs in the county are dependent on tourism spending.