The Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, or ROOST, has posted the results of its 2016 Leisure Travel Study. This is the first year the survey has expanded to include data from Franklin and Hamilton counties.
This is the 13th year the Lake Placid-based tourism promotion organization has contracted a survey to assess traveler data for Essex County in the center of the Adirondacks. Of the more than 25,000 visitors invited to respond, about 5,000 completed the survey.
The study found that most visitors came from other areas of New York state. Outdoor activities are the largest draw. Summer is the peak tourism season followed by autumn. Essex County saw more winter visitors than the other two counties. ROOST President Jim McKenna says the findings reinforce that the Adirondacks are the region’s primary attraction. “We’re known in the industry as a rubber tire destination meaning it’s a drive to destination. And the bulk of the activity on a year round basis certainly is from New York state and the surrounding states. Our long-term goal is really making a viable commercial airport and trying to expand our air access and opening up new markets. We see that as the formula that’s needed to growing the winter season. It’s been clear that that season has seen the smallest amount of growth over the last 30 years.”
ROOST is the tourism marketing organization for Essex, Franklin and Hamilton counties, which include the communities of Tupper Lake, Lake Placid, and Saranac Lake. The past dozen surveys only collected information from Essex County visitors, but McKenna notes this time it also assesses what people were doing in Franklin and Hamilton counties. “The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, based in Lake Placid, we’ve expanded and include now all of Franklin and Hamilton counties. And what we’re trying to do is not only combine the marketing message for the Adirondacks but just as importantly try to really gear in on the differences of the area for the travel market. And this survey for the first time clearly shows that there are some differences not only when, where people are coming from, but expenditures and some of the activities that they participate in. So this helps us fine tune the message for each of our regions.”
Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chair and town of Morehouse Supervisor Bill Farber says the area’s natural resources will always be the key amenity drawing tourists. “From the boating to paddling to hiking to snowmobiling, snowshowing, skiing in the winter we’re an area that is really rich in outdoor amenities. I do think that we do have other attractions here that bring people in. But the big draw for Hamilton County is always going to be outdoor recreation. When you think about the fact that 70 percent of the county geographically is Forest Preserve we have a much richer outdoor recreational opportunity than nearly anyone you can cite.”
Farber believes Hamilton and Franklin counties’ partnership with ROOST will be a dynamic change for tourism marketing. “Travelers don’t really have any idea where these artificial boundaries are that we call town lines or county lines and cross back and forth across these artificial boundaries in a pretty fluid way not really caring which county they’re in. As far as being included for the first time in this report you know what does that tell us about the next year’s marketing campaign? What does that tell us about what visitors are looking for? We try to match that up with anecdotally what we hear.”