Tourism and Numbers – surveys on the Erie Canal

Numbers don’t lie; that’s what makes them so valuable. So for the tourism industry, which is in the business of delivering experiences, measuring success and change can be difficult. But it is important to start somewhere and at least start tracking a few elements of your business. The Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor has done just that. They recently released a study titled “Economic Impact Report- East Region Case Study.” In 2008 the Corridor ( an area encompassing 524 miles of Upstate NY) developed and administered a survey, which generated 800 responses. Further investigation showed that over 60% of the respondents visited the Eastern portion of the corridor, so it was decided to focus the analysis on this region.  The Heritage Corridor staff could have decided that the sample was too small, or too skewed to the Eastern region to provide any real answers. But sometimes you have to start where you are, not where you wish you were.

So by undertaking the analysis, they did get valuable information. They have a picture of their typical visitor – an adult aged 46-75 with an income of $75,000 or more per year. Most of the visitors are day trippers and 54% of visitors are repeat visitors. For those of you in the tourism industry, you know that day trippers are not as valuable as overnight visitors ($33 spending per party for day trippers, vs $361 per party for overnight visitors) and you would ideally like more first time visitors than repeat visitors. But even this information is helpful because it will help chart a direction to encourage more spending and more new visitors.

So today think about what you would like to measure – more business from a certain target market, more spending per visitor, or more phone calls to your front desk? Start measuring where you are today- you will be glad you did.


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