Upstate New York tourism spending reaches new high

Jul 15, 2013

According to new research, tourism spending rose across every region of New York state last year, with overall growth of more than six percent. Traveler spending reached a new high of nearly $60 billion statewide and upstate New York, in particular, did well.

The biggest areas for growth upstate were central New York, Niagara, and the Thousand Islands, with a bump of at least five percent in each region.

But Adam Sacks, lead author of the report and president of Tourism Economics, says the real indicator of the industry’s importance lies in job growth.

“In some ways employment is the most salient indicator of how important tourism is, particularly in parts where unemployment is relatively high," Sacks said. "Tourism is generating significant numbers of jobs. We’re talking about 40,000 jobs in the Finger Lakes region that are dependent on tourism.”

The report shows that the Adirondacks and Catskills are the most reliant on the industry, with 18 and 15 percent of employment sustained by tourism in each area, respectively.

Sacks says the upstate region is surprisingly reliant on tourism driven by the presence of seasonal second homes.

He says it’s harder to track, but there’s definitely a large amount of economic activity created by home owners who migrate upstate for skiing, hiking and other vacation attractions driven by the seasons.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has paid a fair bit of attention to tourism during his time in office, released a statement showing that efforts to promote the state's assets were paying off.