Gone are the days of shopping outlets drawing visitors to Reading. Now, the visitors bureau is looking for new ways to draw people to the area.
The tourism industry brings in $1.3 billion each year through outdoor recreation, sports, arts and culture and entertainment, but the Greater Reading Convention and Visitors Bureau wants more.
"How can we define ourselves better so that we are able to draw even more visitors into the area. Once they are here, they will see everything that is happening," said Crystal Seitz, the bureau's president.
That is why it has hired Zeitgeist Consulting to come during the first week of October and see what Greater Reading has to offer.
The team is made up of three people from different generations. They will see what the area is like and then offer advice on how to make Greater Reading a destination for outsiders, like the outlets used to be.
"What we need to look at now is can we replace what we are losing there? They still draw visitors in, but how can we now up the ante? What is the next thing? And hopefully this study will help us determine that," said Seitz.
Many of the people we spoke with agreed Berks County needs something more.
"I think it does need more visitors," said Michael Whalen.
"I think it is a great idea that they are trying to do something around here to bring more visitors in because we have been here for most of our lives and pretty much done everything that there is to do already here," said Cesar Canas.
"Yeah, I think we do need something more. I am not sure what it is," said Cindy Rhoades.
The team will complete its assessment in January, but Seitz said once they find a niche for Greater Reading, it is going to take community support to make it happen.
"In theory, it sounds good, but until you actually put the tire to the road, nothing is going to change. So, I ask and invite the community to work with us because I think it is going to be a big win for Greater Reading," said Seitz.
The visitors bureau is doing all of this because, at the end of the day, it said more visitors means more dollars and a reduction in local taxes.