Legislature gets tourism update; Hampton looks at expansion
PENN YAN--Tourism continues to increase in the Finger Lakes region and the economic impact of visitor spending is reaching new levels in the area and throughout the state.
Jessica Bacher, president and chief executive officer for the Yates County Chamber of Commerce, presented highlights from the 2017 Oxford Economics report on regional and state economics at the legislator's monthly meeting in Penn Yan, Monday, Aug. 13.
Bacher reported the state's tourism economy expanded in 2017 with a 4.4 percent growth in traveler spending reaching a new high of $67.6 billion. The Finger Lakes region recorded a 2.4 percent increase for 2017 and Yates County increased 4.5 percent for the year.
Bacher said tourism in the Finger Lakes area is now a $3 billion business supporting 58,539 jobs.
Bacher outlined the allocations for 2018 with the chamber serving as the Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) in Yates County.
The allocations included:
Yates County Tourism / $176,629
Finger Lakes Wine Country / $67,500
Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance / $21,860
Mom's 5K Run / $5000
Arts Center of Yates County / $5000
The Windmill / $ 3000
Keuka Outlet Trail / $10,000
Dundee Scottish Festival / $1000
Finger Lakes Farm Country / $5000
Fox Run Vineyards / $2400
Total / $297,389
Bacher said the chamber's key projects for the year include: revising the www.theflx.com website, marketing for the "off season," farm to table marketing, review of the Canadian market, maximizing relationships with regional marketing efforts and increasing their image library.
In other business, the legislature approved letters of support to go along with a grant application for a proposed $3 million expansion at the Chris Iversen owned Keuka Lake Hampton Inn. Iversen supplied the following project description for the hotel expansion after the meeting:
"The proposed project will design and construct a new 300 seat banquet/conference center addition to the Hampton Inn at 110 Mace St., Penn Yan. To accommodate the banquet/conference business, the facility will be improved with a new banquet kitchen, separate lounge/bar with bar kitchen, expanded toilet rooms and relocated 100 seat meeting and fitness rooms. An adjacent parcel of land will be acquired and improved for additional parking. Site improvements will include expanded lakeside entertainment patio, fire pits, grille, docks and lakeside gazebo. The project will result in approximately 30 construction jobs and will create 20 new FTE jobs within two years of completion.
"Penn Yan's hospitality market suffers from its seasonality. The proposed facility improvements will create a year round destination. This is necessary to attract visitors into the area during the six months that tourism is soft. Generation of off-season business will have significant economic multiplier effects. Conference business from outside the area will be attracted to the scenic location and facility amenities, benefitting the applicant's hotel as well as other area businesses. Conference business coming to the applicant's relatively small hotel (72 rooms) will generate overflow room nights at other hotels. Conference attendees will generally be provided one banquet dinner meal during a multi-night stay. They will seek their other meals at outside restaurants, creating other retail spending opportunities.
"Each summer, lodging and restaurant businesses must ramp up their staff to accommodate a surge in business. The local labor pool is very limited. Local unemployment is at an area low providing no slack to draw seasonal employees from. This project will create year-round employment at its facility and others, primarily entry-level positions with opportunities for advancement, benefitting those suffering from Penn Yan's poverty rate of 26.3 percent (among the highest in the Rochester region). Penn Yan's local restaurants have benefitted from the seasonal increase in tourism created by the opening of two new hotels. However, the village still lacks upscale restaurants that have been unwilling to risk the severe seasonality of the market. This project will create an off-season market that will make that needed upper-end restaurant niche sustainable.
"This project is projected to increase by one third the local lodging tax revenue generated by its facility alone; overflow room nights at other hotels will further increase that. Sales tax revenue generated by the banquet and conference business, and their economic multiplier effect will be significant."
Iversen said they are presently in the preliminary planning stage, preparing financing plans and considering architectural concepts.