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Fewer tourists are coming, but spending more money

December 28, 2011
NORTH COUTRY– Fewer tourists are coming to the North Country, but they are spending more money, according to a recent report by the Plymouth State University's North Country Economic Index. The estimated room and meals revenues "indicate a strong hospitality industry," wrote Daniel Lee, Ph.D, an economist and index's chief writer, "However, stagnant Saturday traffic counts suggests otherwise." He continues that "there has been a shift to high end market in the region's hospitality industry."

Usually an increase in traffic counts lead to higher room and meal taxes. Tourism leaders mostly concur with Lee's assumption. Chris Diego, the General Manager of the Mountain View Grand, in Whitefield, said their occupancy numbers have gone up, but more pointedly their "revenue per room has gone up by $18" over the previous year. Still, their rates and meal prices are competitive with less amenity-rich lodging and restaurants.

What we may also be seeing is a decrease in the low and moderate income travelers, said Dick Hamilton, of Littleton, a retired tourism official. "The current fiscal uncertainty," he said, may result in less day-tripping by this group and thus traffic counts are down."

Also, Hamilton credits the increase in the room and meals tax to the "aggressive and successful marketing" of the Mountain View Grand and the Omni Mount Washington Resort.

Randy Labnon, General Manager of the Town and Country Inn and Resort, in Shelburne, said their business is up, but not because tourists are spending more. He thinks consumers are still frugal and looking for value. Labnon credits local projects like -- the biomass plant, windmill project and the new federal prison – for pushing up occupancy rates.

Labnon acknowledged that price conscious tourists might find this is a great time to upgrade their experience at an affordable price.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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