Rutland: Fourth most-visited county in the state
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | April 22,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff FILE Photo
Skiers travel down the Superstar Trail at the Killington Ski Area last year. Rutland County, home to the Killington and Pico ski resorts, attracted 1.3 million visitors in 2011, according to a new state tourism report.
Rutland County attracted 1.3 million visitors in 2011, representing nearly 10 percent of the 13.95 million people who visited the state, according to the biennial report on the economic impact of tourism, commissioned by the state Department of Tourism and Marketing.
The number of visitors to Rutland County increased 200,000 from 2009, the last time the study was done.
Chittenden County, the state’s largest county, attracted the most tourists – 3.7 million, or 26.6 percent of the total. Lamoille County was a distant second with 2 million visitors, or 14.4 percent of the total. Windsor County attracted 1.7 million visitors, 12.6 percent of all visitors in 2011.
Visitors to Rutland spent $176 million, representing 10.2 percent of the $1.7 billion in total tourism expenditures. That’s an increase over 2009 when visitors to the county spent $159 million.
Home to the Killington and Pico ski resorts, Rutland was second only to Lamoille County in total dollars spent during the winter — $97.4 million in 2011, an increase of nearly $15 million from 2009.
Rutland County was one of seven counties that experienced a decline in the percentage of total visitor spending. Rutland’s share fell from 11.2 percent in 2009 to 10.2 percent in 2011.
Over that two-year period, Lamoille County recorded the largest percentage increase in visitor spending from 12.5 percent to 15.1 percent.
Spending in Chittenden County totaled $434 million, 25.2 percent of all visitor spending, down from 25.8 percent in 2009.
Lamoille County, another skiing center with Stowe Mountain Resort and the Trapp Family Lodge, attracted the second most number of visitors. Lamoille generated $259 million in visitor spending, or 15 percent of the state total; visitors to Windsor County spent $221.6 million, or 13 percent of all spending.
Orange County attracted the fewest number of visitors. The 167,000 visitors spent $19.8 million, or 1.2 percent of all spending.
In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, visitor spending in the fall of 2011 was up $128 million, or 38 percent, from the foliage season of 2009.
Greg Gerdel of the Department of Tourism and Marketing said within days after Irene hit the state in late August, the department scrambled to “relocate motor coach tours that otherwise would have cancelled” and found them alternate accommodations “so they still came to Vermont.”
Gerdel, the department’s research and operations chief, said those bus tours were relocated primarily to Chittenden County and northern areas of the state which escaped the worst of the storm.
In addition, he said the state sent out emails to anyone who had requested fall information that Vermont was open for business.
Even in the four hardest-hit counties — Bennington, Rutland, Windsor and Windham — spending was up in the fall of 2011.
But Gerdel said that can’t be solely attributed to visitors who came to view the foliage.
“Realistically, there was some impact on both rooms and meals sales because of people who came to help, who were with FEMA or individual organizations,” he said.
In 2011, visitor spending totaled $1.7 billion, contributing an estimated $274.5 million in tax revenues.
Total rooms receipts (taxable and nontaxable) totaled $402.2 million, a 16 percent increase from 2009.
Chittenden and Lamoille counties accounted for “nearly half the growth in Vermont room receipts’’ from 2009 to 2011, according to the report, “Benchmark Study of the Economic Impact of Visitor Spending on the Vermont Economy 2011.”
Rutland County generated $42 million in rooms tax receipts, an increase of 7.8 percent from 2009.
Statewide, meals receipts rose 6.2 percent over the same two-year period to $833.6 million. Alcohol receipts rose 9.8 percent over the two-year period to $150 million.
Meals receipts in Chittenden County increased 8.7 percent to $254.8 million; Rutland County was a distant second with receipts of $76 million, an increase of 4.4 percent from 2009.
Meals and rooms was the largest visitor expenditure followed by gas at $290.5 million; shopping, $214.3 million; groceries, $167.4 million; and entertainment and recreation, $122.7 million.
Driving to the state was the most popular mode of travel, with 75 percent of visitors coming by car; 10 percent came by air; 8 percent by rental car and 2 percent arrived by recreational vehicle and another 2 percent arrived by bus/motor coach.