Last week the Valley Forge Tourism and convention board held its annual rally and golf outing at Bluestone country club, after it was cancelled last spring due to COVID -19.
“It was a really good event,” said Mike Bowman, president and CEO of Valley Forge Tourism. “It was the best event we’ve done, and I think a lot of it had to do with the things we had and all the experiential messages, but it was coming out of COVID.
“People were just dying to sit and talk. And they wouldn’t leave! We were there late that night… It just really showed you that life is coming back, and people are dying to make sure it comes back,” Bowman said.
Bowman said that the overall goal for this event was to get the Montgomery County’s tourism industry back up and running, especially with COVID-19 restrictions lifting every day.
“The overall goal was to get tourism back, life is back, there is a lot of things to do in Montgomery County and my organization’s job is to promote that, to market that, to strategically get the word out,” he said.
The outing certainly proved to be a great and successful way to kick off the tourism season for Montgomery County.
“At the end of the day our strategy is to fill over 9,000 hotel rooms in Montgomery County. When golf came back last April and May, it exploded. It just went through the roof because it’s outdoors and you can social distance and all that,” Bowman said.
“The challenge for golf country clubs is the events and the weddings and all that stuff. That was our push this year more than ever… it’s a big economic business it fills hotels, it fills golf courses, it fills restaurants, the Valley Forge National Park, the King of Prussia Mall, trails, etc…”
This golf event at Bluestone helped kick off the tourism industry going into the summer and fall seasons. Bowman said that there were a ton of fun things to do at the outing and everyone had a blast getting back out there.
“Coming out of COVID, it was just a great day,” he said. “We had a huge air balloon right out on the first tee and people were going up and down, and I don’t think people had seen an air balloon in over a year and a half, so they were like freaked out, you could see it!”
“We had bagpipers take all the golfers up to their carts, we had the PGA there, we had partners talking about the Valley Forge National Park, shopping, just normalcy. Just bringing things back to life, and at the end of the day, I’m looking to drive jobs. There are 35,000 jobs associated with Montgomery County,” Bowman said.
In fact, the PGA announced in April that its APGA youth affiliate will come back to Bluestone in September during a tour, focusing on bringing more diversity to the game.
“The Advocates Pro Golf Association, a non-profit organization that strives to bring greater diversity for the game, providing opportunities to African Americans and other people of color not just in competitive golf, but also on the business side of the sport,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“One stop is scheduled for Sept. 20-22 at Bluestone Country Club in Blue Bell, the tour’s first visit to the Northeastern United States.”
Montgomery County is definitely the place to be as travel restrictions become more relaxed and more events are able to take place.
The golf outing last week consisted of a scramble-style tournament with about 130 golfers and it was definitely a day to appreciate the great golf available in the county.
“It was a good day to talk all about that, to highlight a great golf course, Bluestone country club, which is a really nice place, to just get people together to converse… it’s about the experience of top-quality golf in the northeast region right in the backyard of Montgomery County,” said Bowman.
The Valley Forge Tourism and convention board is ready to get things back to normal, and get people back out for some quality time in Montgomery County.
“I think that the experiential opportunities in Montgomery County are probably the best in the entire region, they really are,” Bowman said. “From LEGOLand, to the historic Valley Forge National Park, there’s over 100 miles of trails that connect to the Schuylkill River trails… There’s just a lot to do,”
And with COVID restrictions being lifted, people are certainly itching to get out there and do as much as they can.