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Tourism Impact in the Adirondacks

September 9th, 2008 · 4 Comments · Destination Marketing

New York DollarsAccording to the recently released report, “The Economic Impact of Tourism in New York State“, tourists spent $51 billion in New York, $1.1 billion in Adirondacks.  No study is going to be perfect, but I think this study proves that the tourism industry plays a big role in this state’s economy.  It isn’t the most titillating stuff, but the Adirondack specific data may be of interest to local economists or economic developers.  The charts and bullet points are courtesy of the New York State Department of Economic Development.  The off-the-cuff analysis is mine.

New York State Visitor Spending 2007

New York - Visitor Spending by Region 2007

  • New York State is divided into 11 economic regions.
  • New York City is the largest single tourism region with 63% of state visitor spend.
  • New York City, Long Island and Hudson Valley together comprise nearly 80% of New York State visitor spend.
  • Well, from a business investment point-of-view, I’d say most of my effort would be spent “downstate”.  In other words, we “upstaters” are lucky to get what we get.  This pie chart might be more useful if NYC were a separate entity.  Actually, there’s a good argument for the Long Island and NYC forming their own state.

    Tourism Share of Regional Employment 2007

    New York - Tourism Share of Regional Employment 2007

    • Tourism is an integral part of every region’s economy, generating from 6% to 17% of employment.
    • Tourism is most important to the Adirondacks and Catskills, generating 17% and 15% of total employment, respectively.

    So, a little more than 1 in 6 jobs up here are tourism related.  We are pretty much toast if tourism in the North Country takes a hit- lot’s of people would be impacted.  Tourism is one of our vital economic assets.

    Question – Do you think that tourism promotion is being properly recognized as an essential activity?  Some local agencies scrape and beg for funds, others collect vast sums in bed taxes all in the name of tourism promotion.  In other words, either local government won’t invest, or they have shuffled the funding off to “outsiders”.  Part of this is our fault because the tourism industry has only recently been held accountable and is only just beginning to objectively report actual economic impacts.

    Total Tourism Spending in the Adirondacks 2007

    Adirondacks, Total Tourism Impact 2007

    • Tourism in the Adirondacks region is a $1.1 billion industry, supporting nearly 20,000 jobs.
    • Visitor spending in the region expanded 8% in 2007

    Even though we are “only” 2% of the total state spend, $1.1 billion is no small number.  This figure was determined by a multiplier formula which I believe is conservative in its measure.

    Wow.  Warren County kicks butt.  Or should I say, Lake George Village?  $503 million in spend.  Their relatively new bed-tax must be generating some pretty significant funds.  A good place to make some cash, but I wouldn’t really want to live there.  Not that Plattsburgh is giving me any leg-thrills.

    Tourism-generated Labor Income 2007

    Adirondacks, Tourism-generated Labor Income 2007

    • Tourism in the Adirondacks region generated $317 million in direct labor income and $538 million including indirect and induced impacts.
    • Tourism is most significant in Warren County, generating $249 million in labor income.

    This along with the direct tourism spend is one of the main drivers of our local economy. Even if you are not “in tourism”, chances are you’re getting some tourist-cash from one of your customers.

    Tourism-generated Labor Income – Share of the Economy 2007

    Adirondacks, Tourism-generated Labor Income - Share of the Economy 2007

    • 14% of all labor income in the Adirondacks region is generated by tourism.
    • Hamilton County is the most dependent upon tourism with 51% of all labor income generated by visitors.
    • Tourism in Essex County generated 31% of all labor income last year.

    Warren County seems to have the most diversified economy, their share is relatively low considering their huge share of the overall tourism spend.  Hamilton County is another story.  Should they be trying to diversify or capitalize on their strength?  Personally, I think traditional industrial-based economic development is a bad fit down there.  Specialization in tourism would be better.  I don’t believe there are a whole lot of growth opportunities down there in anything else.  Essex County…hmm, I wonder what is going on in the rest of the county outside of Lake Placid?

    Tourism-generated Employment – Share of the Economy 2007

    Adirondacks, Tourism-generated Employment - Share of the Economy 2007

    • 17% of all employment in the Adirondacks region is generated by tourism.
    • Hamilton County is again the most dependent upon tourism with over 40% of all employment sustained by visitors.

    I think it is safe to say that Hamco lives or dies with tourism.  But when you look at that 40% number, consider this:  It is the least populated of New York’s 62 counties and is also the most sparsely populated county in the eastern half of the United States, with a population density of just over 3 people/sq mi.  The Wiki also leads me to believe that you won’t be finding many Obiden stickers down there.

    Tourism-generated Taxes 2007

    Adirondacks, Tourism-generated Taxes 2007

    • Tourism in the Adirondacks generated $145 million in state and local taxes in 2007.
    • Sales, property, and hotel bed taxes generated over $74 million in local taxes.
    • Warren County produced 45% of the region’s tax base in 2007.

    While this number is important when considering tourism policy, successful funding of profligate government systems gives me no pleasure.  From a macro-economic angle, it is important to note that tourism spend and taxes from it should be considered revenue from a product export.  Particularly along our border, local economies are clearly benefiting from an increased demand from the Canadian market.  We are in fact, helping our national foreign trade deficit by exporting our Adirondack experience to international markets.

    Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, was commissioned to quantify the economic impact of tourism for the state of New York and each of its counties.  For the even geekier, much of this study is based on the IMPLAN model.

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    4 Comments so far ↓

    • City Mouse

      The Lake Placid/Outside Lake Placid conundrum is always interesting to me.

      Keene/KV does well, and Wilmington/Jay don’t seem to do too badly. Saranac Lake sort of sits out there weirdly by itself. I saw plenty of weekends this season with *no one* on the street and plenty of vacancies everywhere in town. Silly SL. We think we’re a tourist town. We aren’t.

      Although SL straddles Essex and Franklin, so I guess you’d have to split the difference anyway.

    • TourPro

      Don’t forget Newcomb, Schroon Lake, and rest of the “Adirondack Coast”.

      Saranac Lake does have an unusual situation being part of two counties. I don’t think either really give it a fair shake in promotion, it is mostly being done by the chamber there. I don’t think it is bad not being a tourist town, but everyplace should have tourist-friendly elements.

    • City Mouse

      Interesting point. To support it: Most of the visitors I see or meet in Saranac Lake are using it as a budget-alternative base to go to events/attractions in other places.

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