A recent study released by Empire State Development and the I Love NY Division of Travel & Tourism shows visitor spending in Oneida County totaled $2.7 billion dollars in 2021, according to Oneida County Tourism.
Oneida County represents 74% of the Central New York Region’s tourism sales.
Traveler spending was up most in Oneida County at 164% of 2019 levels – the highest of any county in the state, according to the county tourism board.
“We are pleased to see the rebound of the travel industry and significant increase in economic impact generated through visitor spending in Oneida County in 2021,” said Kelly Blazosky, president of Oneida County Tourism in a statement.
“This study validates tourism as a vital part of the economy of Oneida County and the Central New York Region. Year-round and seasonal outdoor adventure experiences, quality attractions and events combined with our ideal location and great value continue to establish Oneida County as an excellent getaway destination.”
In Oneida County, all industry sectors remained steady or realized a slight increase and generated the following visitor spending in 2021:
- Lodging – $1.2 billion
- Recreation – $645 million
- Food and beverage – $365 million
- Retail and service – $460 million
- Transportation – $42 million
- Second homes – $31 million
The $2.7 billion in visitor spending is significantly higher than it has been in years past.
According to Oneida County Tourism, Oneida County brought in $1.5 billion in visitor spending in 2020, $1.7 billion in 2019, $1.6 billion in 2018 and $1.5 billion in 2017.
Oneida Indian Nation to launch cannabis:Timeline, location and what to know
The hierarchy of where the money is spent has not really changed over the last five years. Lodging and recreation always top the list and transportation and second homes round it out.
Blazosky said the growth in 2021 lodging – the largest growth sector – directly correlates to the opening of a Home2 in north Utica in August 2020 and a Hampton Inn in Verona at Turning Stone in April 2021.
These openings added 199 guest rooms (72,635 room nights) bringing hotel room inventory to 3,320 in Oneida County, she said. Simultaneously the occupancy tax increase from 2% to 5% enacted by Oneida County Legislature, which took effect Feb. 1, 2020.
“Additionally, Oneida County benefited from our central geographic location and great outdoor spaces for people to explore,” Blazosky said.
About the study
The Economic Impact Study of Tourism in New York for 2021 was conducted by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company of Oxford, United Kingdom with US offices in Wayne, PA.
The New York visitor economy spans multiple industries and Tourism Economics studied several sectors of the tourism industry, including those listed above.
This past year was one of recovery for the visitor economy as direct visitor spending reached $52 billion. This follows severe COVID-related declines in 2020, according to the statistics.
Visitor spending across the Central New York Region totaled $3.7 Billion in 2021, supporting 33,630 jobs.
Central New York Vacation Region includes Oneida, Otsego, Schoharie, Broome, Chenango, Herkimer, Madison, and Montgomery counties.
The increase in direct spend of 80% versus 2020 was the fastest across New York State, resulting in the best performance versus pre-pandemic (142% of 2019 levels), according to the study.
What does this mean for Oneida County?
Visitor spending supported 19,939 people employed direct, indirect and induced in travel and tourism jobs in Oneida County in 2021 and generated $1.2 billion in household wages, according to the tourism center.
Tourism sustains 22.7% of all employment in Oneida County. State tax coffers gained $134.3 million while local tax revenues reached $123.7 million in 2021 from tourism-generated spending in Oneida County.
Oneida County residents realized $2,846 in tax savings per household in 2021; an offset generated by visitor spending. Oneida County contributed 68.5% of the Central New York Vacation Region’s tourism tax base in 2021 which totaled $376.4 million.
Though the county is bringing in more tourism money than the rest of the state currently, some officials see that divide widening, with more attractions slated to open in Oneida County later this year and into next.
“Tourism is essential to the economy of Oneida County and this study shows that we are in an incredibly strong position right now, thanks to visitor spending increasing at a higher rate than anywhere else in the state,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. in a statement.
“Our current success is due in large part to our strong partnership with the Oneida Indian Nation and the many investments they have made in our region. The future is even brighter, as we prepare for the boon that the Nexus Center will bring in the fall, and the rest of the development of the U-District that will follow, including the county’s food emporium at the REA Wing of Union Station.”