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For most tourism segments, 2009 was difficult

FINGER LAKES—With only a few exceptions, the year of 2009 turned out to be a pretty difficult year for the tourism industry in the area and for the state of New York.
According to Philadelphia-based Tourism Economics (an Oxford company), 2009 visitor spending in the Finger Lakes was down 7.9 percent in 2009 compared to 2008. The Finger Lakes region was not the only area to experience a decline, visitor spending was down throughout the state. Total visitor spending fell 13.8 percent overall in the Empire State.
Schuyler County was the only county that was up in visitor spending from 2009 vs. 2008 in the Finger Lakes region. Schuyler County had a .04 percent increase in spending with $26.4 million in 2009 compared to $26.3 million in 2008. Steuben County had an 8.7 percent decrease, Yates County took a 9.2 percent decrease and Ontario County had a seven percent decrease.
Schuyler County experienced the largest bump in lodging with a 24.7 percent increase, boasting $7 million in 2009, from $5.6 million in 2008. However, Steuben County had the largest decrease with a 13 percent decline, Yates County decreased 1.4 percent and Ontario decreased 8.5 percent.
All counties in the Finger Lakes had a decrease in food and beverage spending by visitors. Visitors spent 6.7 percent less in Schuyler County, 7.8 percent less in Steuben County and an 8.9 percent decrease in Yates County.
A bright spot, according to an internal, unscientific sampling conducted by the Yates County Chamber of Commerce, reports that 17 out of 25 wineries in the county reported they paid some 14 percent more in sales tax for 2009 over 2008. (Wine sales are not specifically broken-out in other county tourism-based statistics).
Tourism in the Finger Lakes is a $2.45 billion industry that supports 56,000 jobs. “Tourism is the shining star in our lackluster economy, I’d hate to see what our towns and villages would look like without it,” Mike Linehan, Yates County Chamber President and CEO said.

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