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The average age of Berkshire County tourists is younger than you think — 11 years younger, actually

Most come to the region for outdoor recreation

PITTSFIELD — If you have the impression that Berkshire County is now attracting younger visitors than in the past, there’s new evidence to confirm that notion.

The median age of tourists this year is 41, a dramatic decline from 52 in 2013, according to a new survey unveiled last week by Lindsey Schmid, the vice-president of tourism and marketing for the 1Berkshire economic development and promotion agency.

And what do visitors prefer to do once here? Nearly 90 percent pursue outdoor recreation, a top choice cited by more than double the number of tourists as in a 2013 study.

People looks at the view of Adams from the summit (copy)

People look at the view of Adams from the summit of Mount Greylock in October. A new study shows that visitors to the Berkshires are getting younger, and most cite outdoor recreation as their most favorite activity.  

Other top attractions include museums and historic sites, visited by 81 percent of tourists surveyed, a slight uptick from 2013, and performing arts attractions, an activity chosen by 52 percent of visitors — a moderate decline from the previous study.

Additional findings confirm a significant increase in visitors who are unmarried, as well as a surge in tourists traveling in families with children.

Schmid presented the results at 1Berkshire’s Dec. 9 annual meeting, based on a survey of about 3,500 people.

She described the increase in younger visitors as “exciting” because it confirms anecdotal evidence — “we see the younger faces when we’re out and about.” Similar evidence surfaced based on analysis of internet visits to the organization’s website, berkshires.org, with a redesign to be relaunched in early 2022.

“We’re reaching the single traveler much more than we were eight years ago,” Schmid said.

fresh grass (copy)

Events like the Fresh Grass Festival, which takes place every year at Mass MoCA in North Adams, are attracting a younger demographic to the area, a new study shows.

She credited programming efforts by cultural organizations, outdoor recreation destinations, wellness organizations and foods purveyors to appeal to the younger crowd.

Bolstering outdoor recreation opportunities serves as “a driving force to bring people to live here as well as to visit,” Schmid said.

“One thing that’s remained a constant through this pandemic is that people have continued to come to the Berkshires and want to come to the Berkshires,” said 1Berkshire President and CEO Jonathan Butler.

The past summer season might have equaled or even exceeded the pre-COVID summer of 2019, he observed, were it not for some staffing capacity issues at many hospitality industry properties.

Schmid also emphasized 1Berkshire’s push to market the region on social media.

“This year, I feel like social media is really our star,” she said. “It’s a great way to get our members noticed and to tell the Berkshire message.”

Combined impressions across all the agency’s social media channels totaled 15 million this year. Impressions are defined as “the number of people who have seen a post, even if they didn’t click, comment, or otherwise engage with that post,” according to coschedule.com, a marketing company.

A TikTok channel is a recent 1Berkshire addition, Schmid pointed out, in order to attract younger people to the county, “which we’re all looking for.”

The agency also launched a new online winter brochure aimed as a reminder that “the Berkshires are open in the winter, letting people know everything that’s going on, and that we are not dark in the winter,” Schmid added.

1Berkshire also added stories and an album of Berkshire stickers to its Instagram channel, another example of “thinking outside the box, to get ahead of the curve,” she noted.

“This is a great moment for us in social media,” Schmid enthused, crediting members of her marketing team for focusing on “where can we be that other destinations aren’t.”

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Schmid presented the 2021 Visitor Perception Survey and the marketing update as part of last week’s annual meeting of 1Berkshire, held via Zoom. The video is available on demand at Pittsfield Community Television or on the organization’s YouTube channel.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at


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