Spending money to promote tourism always pays off for local communities. That has been proven many times over the years. So the latest report bolstering that idea should come as no surprise to anyone.
The Essex County Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, which goes by the acronym ROOST, commissioned the PlaceMaking group of Plattsburgh to do a 22-question Leisure Travel Information Study. The report concluded that visitors to Essex County spent $89 for every $1 that ROOST invested in luring them here. That is an impressive payback amount.
Tourism is big business in the North Country, and notably in Essex County, which is home to the internationally known Olympic village of Lake Placid. The Leisure Travel study showed the county’s visitor spending increased from $89 million in 2010 to $117 million last year. There is no reason to think those numbers won’t be exceeded by the end of this year, as well, as the national economic situation prompts Americans to vacation closer to home. Half of the 1,400 people whose responses were used in the study hailed from New York state, and 14 percent were from Canada.
In a populous state like New York, with major urban centers from which to lure people, and with the metropolis of Montreal being so close, North Country communities have a massive market from which to draw. And this region has everything they would want: spectacular mountains, beautiful lakes and rivers, historical sites and events, world-class sports and noteworthy restaurants. If we make sure people know what they can find here, they will deliver their families — and their money — to this region.
The money spent by visitors acts like an infusion in the lifeblood of our economy. That’s why it is smart for local counties to impose occupancy taxes; those funds can be re-invested in bringing more tourists to the area. In short, visitors pay costs that might otherwise come from local taxpayers.
More people came here for outdoor activities than any other reason, the ROOST study showed. For many years, this region did not promote its hiking, fishing and boating opportunities the way it did skiing. Local businesses have become more wise about sharing the year-round attractions of our breath-taking environment.
The study determined that many people who visited Essex County found the area through social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Besides sites operated by area tourism agencies, the Press-Republican Facebook offers another route to promote area events. We invite local organizers to post upcoming activities on our Facebook page, which is seen by more than 10,000 people a week.
Essex County has 1,116 food-service workers and 659 lodging jobs. So money spent to entice tourism not only benefits restaurants, hotels and attractions; it also sustains a big portion of the workforce.