Busy August and Labor Day Tells Businesses That Tourism Is Strong In MW Valley
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 2, 2008
CONTACT: Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331 or firstname.lastname@example.org
BUSY AUGUST AND LABOR DAY HOLIDAY LENDS EVIDENCE THAT
TOURISM WILL REMAIN STRONG THROUGH FOLIAGE SEASON IN MT WASHINGTON VALLEY, NH
Valley businesses reported an increase in Canadians and European Visitors
Mt Washington Valley, NH - Mt Washington Valley businesses reported a strong end to the summer from August through Labor Day according to an informal survey distributed to members by the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. The general consensus from most businesses was the rainy July weather coupled with high gas prices and economic concerns kept people at home during July. Lodging members attested that reservations continue to be increasingly last minute as travelers wait to see what the weather will bring. Most businesses reported a strong August and Labor Day weekend, attributing the increases to a surge in Canadian and European visitors along with falling gas prices and sunny weather. While New Englanders continued to make up the majority of Valley visitors this summer, the jury is still out on whether New Hampshire residents are increasingly vacationing in-state. An optimistic consensus was expressed for a busy fall in Mt Washington Valley among all those responding to the survey.
Lodging members from throughout the Valley responded to the survey. Leslie, at Will's Inn speculated that the increase in Labor Day business over last year was due to the earlier September date. Many children hadn't returned to school for the holiday weekend, prompting families to fit in one last summer getaway to the Valley. She reported an increase in New Hampshire guests along with more Canadians and guests from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Frederique at the Cranmore Mountain Lodge reported a 50 percent increase in guests for July and August over 2007. The Lodge's international business almost tripled over last year, and a small increase in New Hampshire, California, Ohio and Pennsylvania guests was noted too. Jonathan and Natalie Spak Chef/Innkeepers at the Oxford House Inn in Fryeburg reported a very busy summer and Labor Day, with almost 40 percent of business coming from Massachusetts. Mary Ann Mayer from the Mt. Washington Bed & Breakfast in Shelburne reported August, 2008 was the best year they'd had in ten years. Contrary to other lodging properties, she said July was up over last year for the B&B too. Like most other reporting lodging properties, Mayer explained that European and Canadian travel was up and New Hampshire business remained strong. Gordon Young at Saco River Motor Lodge also reported the strongest July on record. He expressed the tendency toward last minute travel planning as travelers watched the weather.
While Don Bilger of the Inn at Jackson and Whitney's Inn noted a slight decrease in occupancy this summer; he concurred there were more visitors from the U.K, Germany and Holland. These inns also experienced an increase in New Hampshire visitors this summer. Chuck Randall at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort explained that the rainy weather kept them busy with families coming to use the water park and the sunny weather kept traffic high in the Valley leading to a very successful summer for the resort. Marc Donaldson, co-owner of the Darby Field Inn explained they had an increase in room nights, yet saw many more one-night rentals this summer, mostly from New Hampshire residents taking short close-to-home getaways. Arthur de la Torre from the Eastman Inn told us for the second summer in a row he continued to welcome a large number of Canadians drawn to the Valley for outlet shopping. Charlie Mallar at the 1785 Inn credited a ten-percent increase in business over last year to an increase in business from Western Europe and Canada, along with strong business from the U.K and Europe too. Mallar noted an increase in Canadian business from Ontario and the Maritimes as well as strong Quebec traffic too. Jason Robinson, Director of Marketing from Attitash Mountain Village, Attitash Marketplace Motel, Eastern Slope Inn and Oxen Yoke Motel reported strong increases in May and August yet the rainy weather negatively impacted June and July. Robinson concurred the hotels/motels welcomed more international visitors, yet didn't see an increase in guests from New Hampshire. Richard and Susan Lefave of the Old Red Inn and Cottages concurred with other lodging properties that it was a strong summer, due in part to an increase in international and Canadian visitors. Rewarding guests with a gas card for three-or-more night stays helped boost business at the Old Red Inn and Cottages too.
Natalie Spak at the Oxford House expressed that the restaurant welcomed increased guests from not only New England but also Valley residents this summer, especially on weekends. Charlie Mallar of the 1785 Inn credits an increase in the restaurant to higher European and Canadian traffic to the Valley. Susan Logan reported that the Dining Car on the Conway Scenic Railroad was particularly popular over Labor Day weekend.
Retailers weighed in to the survey with mixed results, many asking to be unnamed. Judy Thornton from Studio 95 Craft & Hobby said the rainy days of summer helped her business, and she also welcomed many local shoppers and crafters too. She concurred that there was a surge in Canadian business, especially in August, along with visitors from "one tankful" away. Ken Close of A Little Shop in the Woods attributes a 10 percent increase in Labor Day business to the store's new North Conway Village location. Close saw an increase in New Hampshire customers, along with Canadians from Southern Ontario and the Maritimes. Salvatore Michaels, which operates the Framed Art Superstore, the Gallery at the Met and Soyfire Candle turned in mixed results - Soyfire experienced a predictable slowdown year over year for the summer and Labor Day weekend, sighting the general slow-down in discretionary spending. The art gallery at the Met experienced a boost in sales due to a new strategy of aggressive pricing.. According to owner Michael Kline, "the lowest income level consumers are buying only necessities, while the middle class is migrating toward lower price points and the high end of the market is still doing relatively well". Kline, who is also a local SCORE counselor, adds this advice to local business owners "in past recessions, I've found you need to cut unnecessary expenses, but you can't save your way to growth - sales and profits are a direct reflection of your ability to be of service to others, so this is a great time to re-invest in your business, re-invent your products or services, create new ways to be of service, buy another business, open another store - the point is whether you're in a shrinking economy or a growing economy, growth is the only way to grow". Proof of their commitment to this thinking, the Framed Art Superstore has announced it will expand its offering once again as they move into a larger store in N. Conway Village this fall.
Sara Reader at the EMS Climbing School explained that rainy summer days were detrimental, thus the school experienced an overall decrease in business over last summer. However, their new location in Settlers' Crossing and a slight increase in local Valley residents taking climbing lessons is expected to increase the visibility for the climbing school. According to Jim Miller at Story Land, "Labor Day weekend was very well attended at Story Land, right on par with last year's holiday weekend." Miller confirmed that despite the rain which normally has an effect on traffic, business was on par with last year, attributing the addition of the circus as a big draw. Thomas Prindle, Director of Marketing at Wildcat, reported that the ZipRider attraction more than tripled in numbers for Labor Day. Despite the rainy weather, Wildcat has been on par with revenues from last summer, due mostly to the expanded ZipRider. Prindle also noted an increase in visitors from abroad and Canada. Susan Logan replied to the survey with enthusiasm for a strong Labor Day weekend and summer on the Conway Scenic Railroad. Logan noted "All those rainy weeks in July and August translated into big crowds for us, as visitors sought out activities that they could enjoy despite the wet weather. We saw many multi-generational families wanting an authentic, old-fashioned rail travel experience, and the rainy weather didn't seem to dampen their enthusiasm here". Logan concurred with other Valley business owners who observed an increase in visitors from New Hampshire saying "over half of our visitors for the Day Out with Thomas event were from New Hampshire, with most of them coming from the Concord/Manchester/Nashua/Portsmouth areas". She also noted strong Canadian business, especially from Quebec.
Many survey respondents lent optimism for a strong fall foliage season. Natalie Spak at the Oxford Inn said "I think the foliage will come early this year (I'm looking at a partially red maple in my front yard right now), and our advance room reservations are strong". Mary Ann Mayer from the Mt Washington B&B said that advance fall foliage season reservations were ahead of all other years during her ten year tenure. Arthur de la Torre from the Eastman Inn noted that weekends are almost fully booked already, and he expects to match or increase Fall 2007 bookings. Susan Logan said autumn advance reservations on the Conway Scenic Railroad are very strong from the domestic, international and group tour business, noting a particular increase in Texans planning to ride the rails. Jim Miller added that a few new features at Story Land are expected to keep fall park attendance strong.
While bad weather, a sagging economy and rising gas prices may plague the travel industry, optimism is strong among Mt Washington Valley businesses for continued growth in visitors and revenues from tourism. A clear increase in Canadian and International visitors is expected to continue through fall foliage season and the winter months.
For more information on the Mt Washington Valley, visit http://www.mtwashingtonvalley.org/ or call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364). High resolution photos available online at http://www.mtwashingtonvalley.org/presskit/.
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