Regional traveler growth on the rise in Oswego County

Tourism in Oswego County is on the move based on data from the 2012 report prepared by Tourism Economics, which shows that there has been a significant increase in traveler spending.

The report is focused on the Thousand Islands Seaway Region, which covers Jefferson, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties.

According to the report commissioned by New York State, tourism in the Thousand Islands region is a $480 million industry that supports 8,896 jobs. Oswego County increased traveler spending last year by 13.2 percent. In 2010, travelers spent $102,713,000 in the county and last year that amount jumped to $128,621,000.

Travelers in Oswego County spent the bulk of their travel budget, $37.4 million, on food and beverages in 2012 with second homes and lodging placing second and third at $27 and $15.9 million respectively.

Both state and local taxes made the jump as well. Collection of state taxes from tourism activity in the county increased by 12.6 percent, while local taxes had an increase of 13.7 percent. If it were not for tourism-generated state and local taxes, the average household in the county would have to pay an additional $338 to maintain the same level of government service.

“Some of the reason for this huge increase in visitor spending is the result of excellent fishing conditions and the increase in angling effort,” said David Turner, director of Community Development, Planning and Tourism. “Other factors include the opening of the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center in Oswego, maintenance outages at the nuclear power plants and ongoing construction at the Novelis facility.”

Turner explained that the Salmon River steelhead catch has increased dramatically in recent years, making the total angler hours on the Salmon River 751,127 compared to 488,792 in 2005. The Oswego County Fishing Hotline also received 15,442 calls in 2012 from anglers all over the country hoping to take advantage of the world-class fishery here.

“While fishing is our main attraction, we are also blessed with an abundance of natural, cultural and historic resources here,” said Turner. “So it is no surprise that, as more people become aware of what we have to offer, our visitor numbers continue to improve.”

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