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April 21, 2004
Tourists Make Multi-Million Dollar Impact on Northern New York;
Oswego County Tourists Generate $115 Million Annually
Tourists spent over $1.5 billion while visiting northern New York last year, according to a study just released by the Northern New York Travel and Tourism Research Center of SUNY Potsdam. According to the study on the economic impact of tourism, tourists generated over $115 million in economic impact in Oswego County alone in 2003.
The economic impact of visitor expenditures is measured in four ways: by the number of full-time equivalent jobs supported by tourism; the amount of wages, salaries and proprietary income generated; state government revenues generated; and local government revenues generated by tourism.
The study shows that in 2003, Oswego County had an estimated 529,168 overnight person visits. Tourism businesses in the county provide 2,670 jobs with a total impact of $42 million dollars to the county's economy. From the study, Oswego County leads the counties surveyed on visitor spending on recreation, at $35.2 million.
"These numbers certainly verify the important role tourism plays in Oswego County's economy," said Kimberly Seager, District 10, Phoenix, Schroeppel and Volney, chairwoman of the Legislature's Economic Development and Planning Committee. "As we study the data, it can provide existing businesses with the demographic information needed for expansion and offer new entrepreneurs the data to start new businesses that will meet tourists' needs," Legislator Seager said.
The County Legislature's Economic Development and Planning Committee oversees the Department of Promotion and Tourism. Other committee members include legislators Jack Beckwith, District 21, Hannibal; Barbara Brown, District 8, Palermo, Hastings, Schroeppel; Tom Bullard, District 14, Scriba; Francis Hoefer, District 19, Minetto, Oswego Town, Hannibal, Granby; Paul Santore, District 16, Oswego; and David Waters, District 3, Pulaski and Richland.
"The report demonstrates that our tourism businesses located throughout the county are an important segment in keeping our county's economy healthy," said Christine Gray, Director of Promotion and Tourism for Oswego County.
An estimated 35,000 jobs are supported by both direct and indirect tourist dollars across Northern New York. Tourist dollars also generate $114.8 million in total state revenue, according to the study results. The impact to local government pumps almost $150 million into local government revenues.
Visitor expenditures throughout Northern New York also result in an estimated $662 million in wages, salaries and income earned by business owners
Without these visitor expenditures, 2003 overall unemployment in Northern New York would have increased to 23 percent, and local residents' taxes would have increased an estimated $505 per household in order to maintain government services at current levels, according to the calculations made by study consultants Davidson-Peterson Associates of Kennebunk, ME.
Oswego County numbers would reflect a 19% unemployment rate without visitor expenditures. Without tourism expenditures, local county taxpayers would have seen an increase of taxes of $244 to maintain county services at the present level.
Laurie Marr, executive director of the Northern New York Travel and Tourism Research Center, said the study, which was done over nine months, provides data and information that has never before been calculated for Northern New York. While no previous similar information exists to compare it to, this study provides a baseline for future comparisons.
The study was funded in part through federal grant funds obtained by Congressman John M. McHugh and Senator Charles Schumer.
The bulk of the visitor expenditures last year (71 percent) occurred May through September, according to the study. Overall, visitors spent an average of 28 percent of their total expenditures on recreation, 25 percent on food, 21 percent on shopping, 17 percent on lodging and 9 percent on transportation.
The results of the study are expressed for Northern New York as a whole, for the Adirondack region (Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer/Town of Webb, Lewis and Warren counties), for the Thousand Islands region (Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Oswego counties), and for each county individually.
"While the results in general tend to reflect the trends seen for Northern New York as a whole, there are seasonal variations and some differences between the counties," said Marr.
In 2003, visitors to the seven-county Adirondack region spent over $1.2 billion, while visitors to the three-county Thousand Islands/Seaway region spent $358 million.
"This study contains an enormous amount of information that will be useful to tourism industry professionals, economic developers, business owners, potential business owners and community leaders," said Marr.
The information will be used to document the importance of tourism as a key segment of the economy, to underscore the need to support tourism growth, and to track the results of tourism marketing efforts, Marr said.
The data has been packaged into county profiles, which all also include the Northern New York, Adirondack region and Thousand Islands region data. The profiles are available on the Tourism Research Center's website at www.nnytourismresearch.org. Research Center staff also is creating comparison charts of key information, which will be available on the Web site.
For more information on the economic impact study, contact the Oswego County Dept. of Promotion and Tourism at (315) 349-8322 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 8322.
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