Sunday, November 15, 2015

2014 Tourism Study: Hiking, Paddling, Water Sports Big Draws

2014 Adirondack Tourism SurveyVisitors to the Adirondack region were drawn by outdoor recreation, were slightly younger, and more brought their kids according to the 2014 Leisure Travel Information Study commissioned by the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST).

Of those who said they visited the Adirondacks for outdoor recreation, 85% said they came for hiking. In terms of water sports, 55% said they visited for paddling, 36% for fishing and 25% for boating. Winter sports were much less of a draw with 17% visiting to ski or snowboard, 9% to cross-country ski, 8% to snowmobile, and 8% to hunt.

The Leisure Travel Information Study is based on a survey of ROOST’s 2014 trackable leads database. “Leads” represent the contact information collected from individuals who have responded to ROOST’s destination marketing efforts, such as online contest entries or newsletter sign-ups.

Here are some highlights from the results:

  • Average visitor party age of respondents was 49 years old; which is slightly younger than the five year average visitor age (51).
  • Mean annual reported household income of visitors was $101,039.
  • The average reported total visitor party size was 3.9 persons, including an average of 2.7 adults and 1.2 children. This showed a very slight decrease from average reported 2013 visitor party size, but a higher figure of children.This is the first time that the average number of children per visitor party rose above1.0, implying stronger family visitation.
  • The average stay reported by 2014 visitors was 3.9 nights. This represents a decrease from the 2013 average reported visit duration of 5.1 nights which had represented a historic high. The 2014 reported average stay is just below the five year average of 4.1 nights.
  • Peaks summer (July/August), followed by early summer (May/June) were the highest reported times of visitation. Reported winter visitation (November/December and January/February) dropped considerably from 2013 levels. This may be attributable to poor stretches of weather for winter sports.
  • Outdoor activities remained, by a substantial margin, the largest draw to the area. “Relaxing, dining and shopping” remained the second most frequently reported draw to the region, followed by sightseeing, heritage and culture, and then Olympic site visitation, which dropped in 2014 compared to the 5 year average. Sports and events dropped markedly from the spike in levels of attraction that were reported by 2013 visitors, and heritage and culture increased as a key attraction to visiting the area in 2014.
  • The estimated number of leisure visitors to the region in 2014 based on contacts through ROOST and the conversion rate reported by survey respondents is over 460,000. These visitors spent nearly an estimated $158 million during these Essex County visits.

In addition to providing demographic data and trends, the study’s intent is to determine the effectiveness of ROOST’s marketing programs, to measure the return on investment ratio for public marketing expenditures and the conversion rate factor, or the number of leads who actually visited the region.

“The results of this study contribute to our data decisions, informing our ongoing marketing strategies,” ROOST president James McKenna said in a statement to the press. “Data such as a decrease in the average age of visitors, and stronger family visitation indicates the need to be innovative in targeting a younger audience, as traditional marketing tactics are no longer a viable way to reach the millennial generation.”

“This data also underscores the correlation between our marketing strategies and the resulting economic impact to the region,” McKenna said. “Every dollar spent on marketing generated $3.72 in sales tax to Essex County. That means that in addition to $157,975,400 in direct visitor expenditures, we can also trace $6.3 million in Essex County sales tax revenue, and double that amount in New York State sales tax collections, directly to ROOST’s contact lists.”

ROOST is the accredited destination marketing organization (DMO) responsible for promoting Essex County, Franklin County, Hamilton County, the Town of North Elba, the Town and Village of Tupper Lake, Harrietstown, Lake Placid, Piercefield, and Saranac Lake, New York to the traveling public.

This is the 12th consecutive year of the study. For the last four years, ROOST engaged PlaceMaking to conduct the survey applying the same methodology as previous years when it was conducted by the Technical Assistance Center at SUNY Plattsburgh.

The 2014 report, additional ROOST research, and more is available for download at

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3 Responses

  1. Meredith Leonard says:

    FYI: According to the first sentence this article is about the whole Adirondack region. Actually it’s about only Essex Co. although that doesn’t become clear until two-thirds of the way through, in the last bullet point.

    I did wonder about income, shopping, hiking and snowmobiling numbers.

    I hope ROOST will study other areas they cover. I think there may be significant differences since many upstaters visit southern, central, western and northern parts of the park that are closer to home.

  2. Tom Payne says:

    Merideth, that would not fit into their agenda.