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Shapiro in the Poconos, promotes Pennsylvania tourism

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and his family take a boat ride on Lake Wallenpaupack in Hawley. The governor stopped in the Poconos during his Great American Getaway to promote the commonwealth's tourism industry.
Aimee Dilger
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and his family take a boat ride on Lake Wallenpaupack in Hawley. The governor stopped in the Poconos during his Great American Getaway to promote the commonwealth's tourism industry.

Governor Josh Shapiro hoped to hook a fish out of Lake Wallenpaupack Saturday while luring tourists to Pennsylvania.

“We've got all the assets here, what we do need to do is invest more to promote them," he said.

Shapiro launched the state’s tourism rebrand, Pennsylvania: The Great American Getaway, on Monday at PNC Field in Moosic. He returned to Northeastern PA on Saturday to spend time in the Poconos with his family.

Shapiro left the ballpark Monday in a Pennsylvania-branded RV to trek around the state. The Governor — at times joined by Lt. Gov. Austin Davis and at other times his wife and four children — stopped to celebrate Pittsburgh’s selection as the host of the 2026 NFL Draft; hike the Allegheny National Forest; and camp out at Lyman Run State Park in Potter County.

"I'm told I’m the first governor to ever camp out in a state park," he said.

Shapiro and his family spent Saturday afternoon on a rented boat from Wallenpaupack Boat Tour and Boat Rentals.

Bridget Gelderman is the business’s fourth-generation owner. She and her husband also own East Shore Lodging. Their kids also work at the businesses.

"We're very excited that he came and wants to experience Lake Wallenpaupack," Gelderman said. "It's a beautiful day and he's going to do some really amazing things out there.”

Pennsylvania welcomed over 192 million visitors in 2022, according to the state. The industry generates $76.7 billion in economic impact.

The state is within a four-hour drive of 72 million people. Pennsylvania is the hotspot in America for a two- or three-day road trip, Shapiro said on Monday.

His budget proposal includes a 60% increase to tourism.

"This is common sense bipartisan stuff, to drive more people to places like this,” he said while almost unrecognizable in a baseball hat and sunglasses on the lake’s shore.

Budget conversations have been productive, the governor said. It's due on June 30.

"I'm the only governor in the entire nation with a divided legislature, senate led by Republicans, house led by Democrats." he said. “No one's going to get everything they want, we're going to have to compromise ... that's okay, compromise is a good thing, that's how you make progress."

Shapiro sounded confident that the state would pass a balanced budget with some tax cuts and increases investments in critical areas, like economic development.

"Tourism is a big part of that, education, public safety, we're gonna put more money back in people's pockets to cut their costs,” he said. “And that's the focus of our negotiations. And they're going well.”

The budget proposal includes $8.5 million for the state’s trail system, among other items. He’s also advocating to reform the state’s higher education system.

“We've got to invest ... we've got to get our State System of Higher Ed schools and our community colleges working more effectively together to get a better price point for students and better access to different degree programs that they need," he said.

Shapiro and his family caught a sunset at Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon on Friday. The town of Wellsboro in Tioga County is outside the Pine Creek Gorge, which cuts the canyon. He talked with shop owners and residents as he walked down Main Street.

"One of the things that I love is how much pride people take in their communities," he said.

He listened to what’s important to Pennsylvanians while on the tour.

“That makes me a more effective governor because it gives me the opportunity to get out and fight for them and advocate for them more effectively," he said.

The governor's tour wraps up Sunday in Bucks County.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.

You can email Kat at katbolus@wvia.org
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