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Tourism industry thriving

Labor Day weekend is historically a popular time for taking a final trip of the summer, which makes it a good time to acknowledge the important role tourism plays in our economy.

According to a report recently released by I Love NY, visitor spending in the Finger Lakes region grew by 2.1 percent in 2016 to a total of $3 billion. That spending supported 59,236 jobs across 14 counties, and the $1.5 billion in direct and indirect labor income accounted for 6.5 percent of the total labor income for the region.

“A 2.1 percent increase in tourism spending in 2016 is good for our entire region,” said Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council Chair Rebecca Maffei. “Especially (for) those small businesses that rely on visitors for their on-going viability.”

Between its festivals, arts organizations, sports teams, outdoor amenities and more, Rochester in particular offers a wealth of options to tourists. It is encouraging to see that those resources are paying dividends for the residents of this community.

According to the annual study conducted by Tourism Economics, tourism in the Finger Lakes generated $219 million in local taxes and $166 million in state taxes in 2016.

The report notes that without tourism-related taxes, “the average household in the region would have to pay an additional $484 to maintain the same level of government revenue.”

Another study released this week by the U.S. Travel Association shows other ways in which tourism is a major driver of the economy, both locally and nationally. For instance, the leisure and hospitality sector is the No. 1 small-business employer in the U.S. And Americans whose first job was in a travel-related industry reach an average career salary of $81,900 (even those with only a high school degree or less are able to make an average salary of $69,500 after starting in the travel industry).

All of this goes to show how important it is that we sustain a vibrant landscape to lure visitors to our region.

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