Vermont enjoys tourism uptick
By Sandi Switzer | May 14,2013
Bikers fill the Wobbly Barn parking lot during the Killington Classic, a favorite of area visitors. State tourism officials report that visits to Vermont have increased.
Vermont’s tourism industry hasn’t only survived, but has thrived since the Recession of 2009, with visitor spending up nearly 20 percent following the economic slump.
A benchmark study of the economic impact of visitor spending on the state’s economy during 2011 shows visitor spending was up 19.4 percent to $1.7 billion in 2011 compared to $1.42 billion in 2009. The number of total person trips increased from 13.7 million in 2009 to 13.95 million in 2011, generating $274.5 million in tax revenue for the state. The study, by Chmura Economic and Analytics, Inc., was completed in 2013 for the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing (VDTM).
“As the national economy has recovered from the 2009 Recession, traveler confidence has returned. Vermont worked during the fiscally challenging years to position itself as an ideal tourism destination, both accessible and affordable,” explained Jen Butson, director of communications at VDTM. “And, the report indicates that we have benefited from not just an increase of travelers, but also an increase in their spending while here.”
The state’s tourism industry supports 37,910 jobs, which accounts for 13.1 percent of all jobs in Vermont, according to the study. Those numbers include 21,362 direct wage and salaried positions, 7,091 proprietors, and 9,457 wage and salary jobs created by ripple effects.
“In 2009, Vermont had 18,569 wage and salaried employees supported by visitor spending, which was down about 5.7 percent from 19,704 employed by the sector in 2007,” Butson said. “A significant note: the employment increase of proprietors of small businesses was 7,091 in 2011 — up more than 13 percent from the low of 2009.”
A closer look at the Chmura Economic and Analytics report breaks down visitor spending for 2011 as follows: $393.8 million on prepared meals and beverages, $366.1 million on lodging, $290.5 million on gasoline, $214.3 million on shopping, $167.4 million on groceries, and $122.7 million on entertainment and recreation.
A comparison of the benchmark studies of 2009 and 2011 shows the importance of tourism on the Vermont economy rose moderately, and further indicates the state relies more heavily on visitor dollars than the national average. The study is conducted during odd-numbered years.
“By most measures, Vermont’s economy is among those states most reliant on the hospitality and recreation sectors, nationally ranking behind just Hawaii and Alaska. While you would expect that lodging and meals impact would be high, it’s significant that visitor spending also has a substantial impact on gasoline sales and employment,” Butson said.
Vermont lodging/taxable room receipts spiked to $381 million in 2011 from approximately $332 million in 2009. It is notable the $381 million figure eclipsed the previous high of $372 million in 2008.
Every county in the state, said Butson, posted increases in room receipts in 2011, compared to 2009. “Statewide betterment in the tourism sector is certainly the intention and goal. That some regions may see varying levels of success is a reality, but that all have grown is a true positive,” Butson said. The “Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing makes an egalitarian effort to market all regions, working toward statewide economic growth.”
A closer look at a county-by-county comparison of total room receipts shows:
ź Orleans County had a 74.3 percent increase from $6,775,589 in 2009 to $11,812,894 in 2011.
ź Chittenden County saw an 18 percent increase from $84,474,702 in 2009 to $99,741,540 in 2011.
ź Rutland County had a 7.8 percent increase from $39,033,854 to $42,063,250.
ź Bennington County’s room receipts increased 12.7 percent from $29,310,683 in 2009, to $33,044,670 in 2011.
Meal receipts rose 6.25 percent from 2009 to 2011, with all Vermont counties experiencing increased totals. Alcohol-sales receipts rose 9.8 percent to $149.9 million during the same time frame.
A county by county comparison shows Lamoille County had the largest increase in meal receipts with a 15.6 percent jump, while Windham County saw the smallest increase of less than 1 percent. Bennington County meal receipts rose 4.8 percent; Rutland County meal receipts increased 4.4 percent; Addison County jumped 9.46 percent, and Chittenden County went up 8.75 percent.
The ripple effect of increased visitor dollars spent in the state goes beyond the tourism industry. “Indeed, these increases enable further funding of state programs and resources vital to our communities. That is, after all, the direct mission of Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing,” Butson said. “Of the $245 million in tax and fee revenue generated for the state by non-resident visitor spending, $132 million goes to the increasingly challenged education fund.”
VDTM works with the chief marketing officer’s office in driving the tourism economy as well as presenting the value of making Vermont home, according to Butson.
“It is a goal that we increase residents as well as second-home owners. Second-home owners account for about 20 percent of the owner-occupied housing units in Vermont; pay more that $125 million in education property taxes; pay more than $50 million in municipal property taxes, and spend $160 million during their visits to Vermont for food and entertainment,” she said.
Visit www.VermontVacation.com for more information. Vermont tourism businesses can submit their information, events, and packages on the site free of charge. Further research and resources can be found at www.VermontPartners.com.