Columbia County and Greene County showed fast growth in its tourism industry, evidenced by a state survey of the economic impact of tourism throughout the state based on data from 2016.
The state’s survey, focused on numbers from 2016, is called “The Economic Impact of Tourism in New York.” It includes numbers from six counties in the Hudson Valley.
According to the survey, tourists spent over $140 million in Columbia County in 2016 and tax revenues generated by tourists grew by 8.2 percent.
Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said his county’s sales tax revenue is 4 percent higher than it was at the same time last year.
“We have the three big music festivals on the mountain. If you are going to those, you can’t even find a vacant hotel. That generates a lot of sales tax,” Groden said. “Tourism is our industry. We are not like Albany; we do not have a manufacturing base.”
Heather Bagshaw, tourism marketing manager for Greene County, said county residents would have to pay an extra $1,028 in taxes if not for the sales tax revenue that is generated by tourism.
According to the survey, in 2016, New York as a whole saw 2.7 percent growth in traveler spending, reaching a new high of nearly $65 billion — 22 percent above the state’s pre-recession peak set in 2008.
The Hudson Valley Region has seen a steady increase of tourist spending since 2014 which saw the region generate $3,318,442 that year to $3,536,433 in 2016. The Catskill Region saw $1,232,096 in traveler spending in 2016, up from $1,128,817 in 2014.
“Clearly the county’s tourism industries continue to grow at a significant rate, and we are delighted,” said Columbia County Tourism Administrator Ann Cooper.
According to the survey, Columbia County saw a 7.7 percent increase in traveler spending, the largest increase of any of the six counties included as part of the Hudson Valley Region.
According to the survey, of the six counties included under the Hudson Valley Region in the survey, Columbia County’s employment showed to be the most dependent upon tourism, with 7.6 percent of all labor income generated by visitors.
Statewide, 8.3 percent of New York’s employment was sustained by tourism, equaling more than 780,000 jobs.
“Greene County is on par with the entire state in the growth of our tourism industry,” Bagshaw said.
Bagshaw said labor income from visitors in Greene County in 2016 was 12.1 percent, 7.3 percent was direct income from tourism.
“The tourism industry plays a significant role within the county and has a positive impact on our sales tax receipts,” said Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell of Stockport.
“I’m pleased with the work our tourism department is doing and particularly, the successes that the county tourism industry, businesses and organizations continue to achieve,” Murell said.
The number of visitors to Greene County in 2016, most of whom lived in lodging or second homes, increased 4.2 percent.
“Tourism is very important for jobs and for the sales tax in Greene County,” Bagshaw said.