Like most industries, tourism in New York suffered a hard blow during the Great Recession. In 2008, growth of total traveler spending in the state fell by roughly half; the following year, traveler spending actually declined nearly 15 percent.
Unlike some industries, however, tourism in the Empire State has enjoyed a vigorous rebound. Traveler spending jumped more than 8 percent in both 2010 and 2011, and it rose 6.2 percent in 2012, reaching a record level of $57.3 billion.
Those numbers come from the latest annual report by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company. Tourism-related spending in New York, it estimates, generated $92 billion in total business sales last year.
How important is tourism to the state's economy?
In terms of direct employment, tourism is the fifth-largest industry statewide. All together, tourism supported more than 714,000 jobs last year.
Tourism-related jobs in 2012 generated total income of $29 billion.
The tourism industry put $7.2 billion into state and local tax coffers-$3.1 billion in state taxes and $4.1 billion in local taxes.
In the Finger Lakes region-which as defined in the report spans 14 counties from Rochester to Syracuse and south to Ithaca-traveler spending totaled $2.8 billion, supporting 57,746 jobs. Related income reached nearly $1.4 billion.
More than one-third of the region's tourism jobs are in Monroe County, where traveler spending totaled nearly $1 billion.
According to Tourism Economics, traveler spending rose in every region of the state last year. Yet the rate of increase in the Finger Lakes region-2 percent-was outpaced by many others statewide. And within this region, Monroe County's growth rate was only 0.3 percent. By contrast, last year's report showed growth rates of 6 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.
The report draws no conclusions about factors behind changes in growth rates, and there's a risk of reading too much into one year's data. But clearly, tourism is a significant factor in the regional economy, and strategic efforts should be made to maximize its potential.
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