By County Executive Ed Day
Here we are at the end of August, when many people are trying to enjoy the last days of summer by heading to the Jersey Shore, Lake George or wherever your family’s favored vacation spot might be found.
While you might be hitting the road, other people are making tracks as well; coming right here to the Hudson Valley and Rockland County to spend their vacation time.
Thanks in part to the efforts of Lucy Redzeposki, our Director of Economic Development and Tourism, spending by travelers increased three percent in 2017. That money is being spent in Rockland’s restaurants, hotels, shops and attractions leading to a four percent increase in tourism related employment; 9,060 jobs in 2017 compared to 8,673 in 2016. Tourism accounts for 7.3 percent of all employment in Rockland.
In addition to creating jobs, tourism generates significant State and Local taxes. In Rockland, tourism resulted in an estimated $31.5 million in Local taxes in 2017; an increase of four percent or just over $1 million from 2016.
Tourism is big business. Increases in tourism spending are helping fuel our economy and expand our tax base; every penny paid in taxes by these visitors is a penny that we, Rockland residents, do not have to spend.
A new report about the economic impact of tourism in New York for 2017 was recently issued by the State’s Empire State Development office. New York State’s tourism economy expanded in 2017 reaching a new high of $67.6 billion in traveler spending up from $64.8 billion in 2016.
The report noted that international markets represented 30 percent of New York State’s traveler spending base in 2017. This coincides with a significant increase in outreach efforts by Ms. Redzeposki. Outreach included places as close as Manhattan and Queens, and as far away as Scotland, Ireland and China.
The 2017 hospitality economic indicators are proof that Rockland County’s tourism efforts are paying off. Our assets are being recognized by visitors who come to explore the County. Our attractions, hotels, restaurants and other hospitality related organizations are now working together to maximize their efforts to attract tourists. These partnerships have been crucial to the success of the tourism program. Together, we have put Rockland on the map.
With our proximity to NYC we are well on the way to becoming a destination for travelers. The tourism program has expanded to include a number of efforts that have resulted in a positive economic impact for the County. The tourism program includes: increased advertising with a focus on social media, attracting international tourists from China, participating in national and international sales missions, supporting local efforts such as Visit Nyack and Explore Harriman, promoting the river towns, investing in various events and festivals, and fostering a robust filming program. In addition, the tourism website, explorerocklandny.com, includes a Chinese microsite that has been recognized with various awards.
The report also stated that “Were it not for tourism generated state and local taxes, the average household in Rockland County would have to pay an additional $585 to maintain the same level of government revenue.”
These numbers show that our efforts to increase visibility and awareness are paying dividends. Not only are taxpayers benefiting by the money being spent here but these visitors get to experience the best that Rockland County has to offer.