Private sector jobs in the Rochester metro area declined by 98,200 or 21.3 percent, to 362,600 in the year ending April 2020. Losses were greatest in leisure and hospitality (-32,200), trade, transportation and utilities (-21,200), education and health services (-14,100), manufacturing (-9,200), natural resources, mining, and construction (-8,300), professional and business services (-5,600), other services (-5,200), financial activities (-2,100) and information (-300).
The region's travel and tourism sector generated $986.3 million in regional exports in 2013.
In the summer of 1955, a new “bathing area” offering swimming and picnicking opened in Darien (Genesee County), halfway between Rochester and Buffalo. Originally billed as “Western New York’s Water Wonderland,” the destination grew so popular that its owners would eventually add campsites, a theme park, a water park, a hotel and a performing arts center. Who would have guessed 60 years ago that this site would evolve into the Darien Lake Amusement Park? This attraction has a significant economic presence, drawing more than one million visitors during its May-October season and employing 2,000 workers at its peak, making it Genesee County’s largest employer, according to the company and published reports.
The long-term development of Darien Lake mirrors the growing importance of the travel and tourism sector to the Finger Lakes regional economy. In fact, tourism’s growing importance has been officially recognized by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (REDC), which designated it as a priority industry cluster. Sector employment in the region grew by more than 500, or more than 3%, to 17,000 over the five years ending 2014. The travel and tourism sector is comprised of more than 70 industries. What unites industries as different as restaurants, hotels, racetracks, museums, airlines, marinas and travel agencies is that they all sell to a common customer: visitors from outside the region.
The Finger Lakes attracts visitors from all over the world. They might play a round of golf at one of the area’s award-winning courses, go for a tour of historic Sonnenberg Gardens in Ontario County, visit the George Eastman House in Rochester, enjoy a day out at Seabreeze Amusement Park or spend an evening watching a Red Wings minor league baseball game. Not to be overlooked are the region’s 80+ wineries, which have grown into one of the largest and most acclaimed winemaking regions in the Eastern U.S. The region accounts for about 85% of wine production in the Empire State.
No matter where they are from, spending by visitors to the region ripples through the local economy many times over. This in turn helps fuel additional job creation in industries throughout the local economy via tourism's employment multiplier. Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI) estimates that for every 100 new tourism jobs created in the Finger Lakes, an additional 56 jobs are generated within the region.
Another important dimension of an expanding tourism sector is that it brings “new money” into the region, stemming from sales to domestic or foreign customers who live outside the Finger Lakes region. These “exports” generate additional income and employment that drive wealth creation in the home region. Many exports today are services, which do not have a physical presence and are thus “invisible.” Travel and tourism is considered of the best examples of invisible exports.
The Finger Lakes region’s travel and tourism sector generated $986.3 million in regional exports in 2013 (latest year available), according to EMSI. The five tourism industries in the Finger Lakes generating the most regional exports include: limited-service restaurants ($224.9 million); full-service restaurants ($175.6 million); gasoline stations with convenience stores ($57.4 million); fitness and recreational sports centers ($51.2 million); and museums ($45.4 million).
Going forward, travel and tourism is poised to play an even greater role in the regional Finger Lakes economy. Long-term industry projections underscore this expected growth. The job counts in accommodation and food services (+16.5%) and arts, entertainment and recreation (+10.2%) are expected to outpace the region’s overall rate of job growth (+7.0%) between 2012 and 2022. Through the economic multiplier effect, the travel and tourism sector is creating jobs in many parts of the Finger Lakes economy, while also becoming an increasingly important source of exports for the region.
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