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Report Finds Adirondack Tourism Up

Adirondack Park sign
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Following the summer Adirondack Challenge in Indian Lake this past weekend, Governor Cuomo’s office issued a report on the impact tourism has on New York’s economy.  In the regional breakdown, the report found there was more than $1.3 billion in traveler spending in the Adirondack region in 2015.
The Economic Impact of Tourism Report says tourism is up across the board in the Adirondacks. Its data shows direct visitor spending up more than 14 percent since 2010. $162 million in state and local taxes were generated in 2015.

But charts show declines in traveler spending in four of the six Adirondack counties between 2014 and 2015.  Clinton, Franklin and Essex counties saw overall declines in traveler spending between a half percent and 1.9 percent. Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Marketing Kristy Kennedy says 2015 was a solid year and attributes the negatives to unique factors.   “If you look at 2014 we had a really great year. If you look at ’13 and ‘15 we’re fairly comparable. And then if you think of the history of what happened in 2015 that could affect those numbers: we had a soft Canadian exchange rate which did prohibit some travel. Lower gas prices which would have affected our taxes. And then unfortunately with what happened at Clinton Correctional and the prison break  in June that meant there were no taxes collected on a fairly large number of lodging properties in Clinton County because they were government officials and the way the room rates work. So with all of those factored in, being down one percent and still comparable with 2013 to me is a really solid year.”

The report compares data from 2013 through 2015. Jim McKenna, president of the Lake Placid based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, notes that the significant growth in Adirondack tourism is based on data comparisons between 2011 and 2014-15.  “Our statistics looking at it on an annual basis clearly sees that we're showing growth in the spring and fall. And when that happens that even has more impact than growth in the summer months. You know normally a business cycle in a traditional seasonal tourism market it's geared around those totally warm weather months but by extending seasons it adds real dollars to the bottom line of businesses.”

In the Adirondack region, Kennedy says outdoor recreation remains the core strength even as other activities gain strength.   “History and agritourism have grown leaps and bounds and are finding their own right in our destination. Agritourism with the apple orchards have always been a really strong pull for visitors. And with the wine trail designated in 2012 and now the microbreweries in the area it’s definitely becoming an emerging strength that  people are now seeking us out. And then history has a very specific audience. So although outdoor rec will always be our claim to fame in the Adirondacks, a lot of these different sectors they’re growing leaps and bounds and I would imagine at some point they’ll be on par with outdoor recreation.”

The economic impact of the tourism industry in New York state is $102 billion.  In the Adirondack region, 18.9 percent of all employment is tourism related.

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