By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
Here it is, the middle of August – the very dog days of summer when many people go on vacation.
Rockland residents traditionally scatter for R&R to such favorite locations as the Jersey Shore, the Outer Banks, the Adirondacks and other places.
This year as people prepare to leave the county for their annual vacation we are noticing something else: tourists flocking to Rockland County to spend their leisure time.
That’s right – Rockland County as a tourist destination.
Just two weeks ago our Director of Tourism and Economic Development Lucy Redzeposki hosted a two-day tour for Chinese business people and travel agents to show them all that the county has to offer.
They were at the Nyack Marina where they went on a sailboat tour of the Hudson River. They also visited the Edward Hopper House, Haverstraw Bay County Park, Perkins Memorial Tower, Bear Mountain State Park, Garner Arts Center and the Harriman Outdoor Center.
They spent a day at the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack where they shopped, saw the ice skating rink, rope climbing, bowling and other activities.
Our visitors enjoyed lunch at the Red Hill Café in New City, dinner at Union Restaurant in Haverstraw and spent the night at the Time Hotel in Nyack.
In short, there was plenty for them to see and do all over this county.
Our goal is for more people from China and beyond to spend their time and money in Rockland County. Lucy Redzeposki has been developing tourism in Rockland as a way to grow our economy and expand our tax base.
A new report about the economic impact of tourism in New York State shows that her work is having an impact.
Tourism is big business.
As a result, the tourism economy reached another high in 2016, with $64.8 billion in traveler spending.
And tourism is the fourth largest employer in New York State on the basis of direct tourism employment.
New York State’s tourism economy expanded in 2016 with 2.7 percent growth statewide in traveler spending.
Here in Rockland County we exceeded the state average.
Travelers spent 3.1 percent more in Rockland County in 2016 than they did a year earlier – an estimated $466,545.
That money is being spent in our restaurants and hotels and shops and attractions.
Not only that, but every penny in taxes generated by these visitors is a penny that we, Rockland residents, do not have to spend.
New York State tourism generated $8.2 billion in state and local taxes in 2016, saving each household an average of $1,133 in taxes.
We’re working to make it easier for people to get to Rockland County.
Lucy Redzeposki has also been working with Stewart International Airport and international airlines such as Norwegian Air to encourage travelers to stop in Rockland County on their way to New York City or even to score a less expensive hotel room here.
And we all know what is about to happen with the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
It’s our hope that the bridge, along with improvements in mass transit, will make it even easier for tourists to find their way to Rockland County.
And when they get here, we will be prepared to welcome them.