Tourism promotion is one area of spending in which upstate regions can share the wealth often reserved for New York City.
The city receives so much state money for so many projects and assets that it sometimes seems as if upstate counties are merely the junior partner. Mass transit, for example, is one area to which large sums of state resources are devoted, but upstate gets virtually none of it.
While the Big Apple is considered the king of tourism attractions in New York state, it isn’t the only one.
Some areas — notably, the North Country — have natural and clearly defined elements that entitle them to tourist and state attention. We have our history and our beauty, to start with. And we also have vast recreational opportunities to offer visitors.
In recent years, we’ve added enhancements that have long been conceded to other regions — wine making, for instance. North Country brains are at work on other prospects, such as increasing agri-tourism offerings, for drawing visitors to the region to help pay the bills.
Lake Placid’s world-class venues — always a tourism draw — have an enhanced cachet right now as the Winter Olympics take place in Sochi. The community is seizing on that with special events throughout February. Next door in Saranac Lake, the annual Winter Carnival will be drawing mobs of people for its gala parade and concluding weekend.
Lake Champlain presents us with summer bass tournaments that perennially draw participants and spectators to our scenic shores.
Tourist visits come at a cost, though pleasant, to them and a benefit to all of us. For, when tourists spend money here, it relieves local residents of some measure of their own tax burden.
Theoretically, at least, every dollar arriving in sales tax is a dollar that doesn’t have to be collected in property tax — or it’s a dollar that local buyers aren’t obligated to provide.
Here are a few predictions, provided by the Governor’s Office, about New York state tourism in 2013 (before final figures were solidified):
• Tourism was expected to generate $7.7 billion in state and local taxes, with direct spending up 7 percent over 2012, to $61.3 billion. The Labor Department says that is enough to pay the salary of every police officer and firefighter in the state.
• 24,800 jobs were expected to be added to the leisure and hospitality industry statewide, a 3.1 percent increase.
• The number of visitors to the state was expected to increase by 8.8 million, a 4.2 percent increase over 2012.
• The hotel-occupancy rate was on pace to be 73.7 percent, almost 10 percent higher than the national figure.
The North Country shares in all that bounty. Our benefit is limited only by our imagination and our solidarity, community to community.
New York state is to be commended for its tourism promotion. So is our region.