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Tourism Study Shows Industry is Growing

By Assemblyman Will Barclay

A recent tourism report released by the Empire State Development Corporation says tourism is a vital and growing component of the New York State Economy.  In 2007, visitors spent $51 billion in the local economy, up 9 percent since 2006.

As much as 6.1 percent of all jobs in the state are sustained by tourism.  Tourism ranks seventh in the state for job creation.  That means that more jobs are created by tourism than even the construction or educational services industries create.

According to the report, tourism generated $6.8 billion in state and local taxes and $7 billion in federal taxes in 2007.  Much of the industry’s increase this year was the result of overseas and Canadian visitors traveling to New York because of a favorable exchange rate.  Canadians’ spending was up 11 percent in 2007 when compared to 2006.  Foreign spending represented 28 percent of all visitor spending in 2007.

I recently held a forum in Skaneateles called RemaiNY.  The forum was designed to discuss ways in which we can keep people within our state.  Local leaders from community colleges, young professionals and interested parties who want to see our talented youth stay in New York discussed several topics.  We discussed the assets this region has to offer including landscapes and natural resources, as well being home to a friendly population.  I’m certain that the majority of tourists who came from out of town to this region found the landscapes in the Adirondacks, along the St. Lawrence Seaway and throughout our Finger Lakes region to their liking to say the least.  I’ve always been proud of this region’s natural beauty; the four seasons contribute to the wide variety of attractions the state has to offer.

Also encouraging was the study’s finding that visitor spending is up 9.3 percent since 2006.  This visitor spending increase is a trend: in 2004, visitor spending was at roughly $40 billion and in 2007, it was at $51 billion.  Every year since 2004, the state has seen a steady rise in tourism spending.  The report also states “the tourism sector generated state GDP of $44 billion in 2007”—roughly 4.3 percent of the state economy.

This report is obviously good news for our state.  We’ve begun to collectively capitalize on our attributes and that hard work is showing up in studies.  Business owners in different regions of the state have begun to tout their vineyards or bed and breakfasts as destinations and it’s working for many.  Another growing segment of the tourism industry is agri-tourism.  Farms have been able to diversify and host visitors to different events, such as hayrides in the fall and maple syrup events in the spring.  They also play an important role in educating the public about agriculture, another important job creator in our economy.  I am hopeful that the trends continue and look forward to working with other lawmakers in the upcoming session to further promote this region and our state.

For more information, visit www.iloveny.com. If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding this or any other state matter.  I can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, 13069, by e-mail at [email protected], or by phone at (315) 598-5185.