Saratoga Partnership Unveils Inaugural Hospitality & Tourism Index: Thriving Industry Generates Nearly $1B Annual Economic Impact in Saratoga County

Strength of critical sector is evidenced by rising business at hotels, restaurants, retail outlets and attractions, growth in hospitality jobs, and increase in tourism-driven tax receipts 

Saratoga Springs, NY – The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, a Saratoga County-based economic development organization, today unveiled its inaugural Saratoga County Hospitality & Tourism Index, which illustrates a flourishing industry that delivers a nearly $1 billion annual economic impact, creates and sustains thousands of jobs, and drives substantial activity at hotels, restaurants, retail outlets and tourist attractions throughout Saratoga County.

Saratoga County’s hospitality and tourism sector generated an economic impact of $979 million in 2018 according to the index, which captured a quantitative analysis of data prepared by Tourism Economics, a leader in global forecasting. That total includes $589 million in traveler spending, $321 million in labor income, and $69 million in local and state taxes. Of note, tourism-generated state and local taxes saved the average household $738 in annual property taxes that would have been needed to maintain government services.

At the same time, job growth in Saratoga County’s hospitality and tourism sector is robust. Total employment last year stood at more than 11,500, and in accommodations and food services alone, which include hotels, restaurants and related businesses, both the number of people working – nearly 10,000 – and the average annual wage – $24,164 – have almost doubled since 2001.

“The importance of the hospitality and tourism industry on Saratoga County’s economy is immense. We fully expect the impact of this vital economic engine to exceed $1 billion in 2020,” said Marty Vanags, President of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. “We also recognize that the value of this sector goes beyond dollars and cents; it is a critical asset in our efforts to attract talented people and innovative companies to Saratoga County.”

The index also included the results of a Pulse Survey that aggregated responses from 45 industry stakeholders. Among the findings: respondents named Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Saratoga City Center and Lake George as having the biggest impact on their businesses; almost two-thirds expect an improved tourism season next year, nearly 70 percent are planning new investments, and over half expect to add employees; and workforce availability and labor costs were identified as the biggest challenges. Half of respondents said business either grew or held stable with the new Saratoga Race Course schedule, while half saw their business decline.

Among other key findings in the Saratoga County Hospitality & Tourism Index:

  • Saratoga Race Course generates $237 million in annual economic activity and nearly 2,600 jobs, according to a 2014 study by the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency;
  • The busiest months for employment in accommodations and food services are May through September, each of which average well over 10,000 employees;
  • The average annual wage for Saratoga County’s hospitality and tourism sector has increased 89 percent since 2001, outpacing both the Capital Region (80 percent) and NYS (69 percent);
  • Room occupancy taxes in Saratoga County totaled just under $1 million in 2018, a 198 percent increase from $335,605 in 2001; and
  • Saratoga County’s local and state tourism tax receipts of $69 million in 2018 representeda 15 percent increase from 2015, and accounted for 28 percent of the Capital-Saratoga Region’s tourism tax base.

“The strength of our hospitality and tourism industry is a vital piece of what makes Saratoga County a great place to live, work and play,” said Kevin Hedley, Board Chairman of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. “This sector not only generates tremendous value in its own right, but it also provides vital support that enhances nearly every segment of our economy.”

Presentation of the index was followed by a panel discussion highlighting challenges and opportunities in the hospitality and tourism sector, which featured David O’Rourke, CEO & President of the New York Racing Association; Darryl Leggieri, President of the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau; and Cindy Hollowood, former general manager of the Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs.

More than 100 corporate executives and business professionals gathered at the Excelsior Springs Event Center in Saratoga Springs for the unveiling of the index. Presenting Sponsor was Adirondack Trust Company; Gold Sponsor was BBL Inc.; and Bronze Sponsor was Excelsior Springs Event Center.

Previous indices developed by the Saratoga Partnership have highlighted key sectors including Warehouse and Logistics, Manufacturing, Real Estate, Agriculture, and Arts and Culture.

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About the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership

The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership leads a host of critical economic and workforce development initiatives across the public and private sectors, driving economic success for residents, businesses and government in Saratoga County, New York. The Saratoga Partnership provides a point of contact for business retention and expansion, enabling a seamless delivery of programs and services for businesses seeking to grow, and spearheads semiconductor industry marketing and attraction, global trade assistance, community economic development, and data collection and planning. For more, visit us at saratogapartnership.org and on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn. The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership is a member of the Saratoga County Economic Development Alliance, which includes the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation.