2021 Fourth Economy Economic Impact Analysis

Tourism on GAP Drives $121 Million in Annual Economic Impact, Estimates Fourth Economy

By Bryan Perry |

Tourism along the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage drove over $121 million in economic impact in 2019, according to a year-long analysis by Pittsburgh-based consulting firm Fourth Economy released on November 30, 2021.

Fourth Economy conducted 64 interviews with local stakeholders between Cumberland and Downtown Pittsburgh and surveyed 125 owners of trail-facing businesses, 784 GAP users, and 163 residents of trail towns – typically, small communities once dependent on coal, coke, paper, lumber, and manufacturing. Its team estimated that GAP tourism generated over $74 million in direct spending, nearly $22 in indirect spending, and almost $25 million in induced spending during 2019. This spending yielded an estimated $19 million in tax revenue in 2019, with $8.7 million in tax revenue going to back to state, county, and local governments, and it supported nearly 1,400 jobs.

Fourth Economy also looked at the broader economic context in the region. Its analysis revealed that, despite population loss and industrial decline, employment in key sectors associated with trail activity has grown faster in the area near the GAP than it has in the wider region or in the two-state area of Pennsylvania and Maryland at large. In addition, they found that the median property value of properties near the Great Allegheny Passage increased by 13 percent between 2015 and 2019, nearly twice the rate of median property values across Maryland and Pennsylvania.  

The report concludes with a discussion of key opportunities and challenges facing both trail-facing businesses and trail towns along the GAP. Click here for a PDF of the entire report.