Summer sales tax receipts are generally viewed as a pretty good indicator of how well the tourism season went for Warren County businesses, and the initial state reports show some growth compared to last year.
That seems to jibe with the opinions of the county’s tourism experts, who said the late summer and fall were strong after a spate of rainy weekends hurt tourism early in the summer.
Joanne Conley, Warren County’s tourism coordinator, called the summer season “fairly solid” and noted that warm, dry weather has made for a strong early fall in terms of visitor numbers.
“We’ve heard mixed reviews on the summer from our members, which includes a wide cross-section of businesses from lodging to professional services,” said Amanda Metzger, marketing manager for Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Some of them said it was a spectacular summer while others said they were down from last year as of the end of August.”
The financial numbers clearly show that more money was spent in the county over the summer.
The Warren County Treasurer’s Office is awaiting the final state sales tax payment for the third quarter of the year, which includes July, August and September, but to date the quarter’s receipts are up 1.1 percent over the summer of 2016. Occupancy tax receipts, which stem from a county-imposed 4 percent tax on rooms, are up 1.75 percent for the year.
The third quarter is annually the biggest for the county in terms of tax receipts, thanks to an influx of summer visitors.
State sales tax numbers for 2017 showed higher increases in July and August, and a decline in September. But payments for the first two months of the quarter are based on state estimates, with the third month of the quarter being the period in which the state balances out between estimates and actual numbers. (Gas prices have been higher than last year, which could play a part in some of the increase, as sales tax on fuel is paid on the dollar amount and not the volume.)
Conley and Metzger said warm, dry weekend weather in September and a busy events schedule helped bring in visitors later in the year as well. Metzger said one eatery’s surveys during the annual Lake George Restaurant Week last month showed 68 percent of its patrons were from out of town.
For Columbus Day weekend, many lodgers reported being fully booked, with only three reaching out to the chamber to report they still had rooms available, Metzger noted.
“Fall weekends have been chock full of festivals and the good weather has certainly helped,” Conley said. “Foliage is near peak in Warren County, and we are getting calls about foliage.”
With foliage season delayed in some parts of the area because of warm weather, Metzger said Lake George is enjoying a later foliage season and has seen a good surge in international visitors this fall.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of international travelers this fall, including people from the Netherlands, Israel and England in one day last week,” she said in an email.