When you picture Vermont tourists, you probably visualize skiers or leaf peepers cruising slowly down the road.
But while winter and fall are obviously important tourism seasons for Vermont, we actually have a greater number of visitors in the summer.
This shouldn’t be surprising. There’s no place better to enjoy summer than Vermont, with our deep green forests, cool rivers, long afternoon, and endless opportunities to hike, wander and explore.
While summer is our busiest time for tourism, it’s also the season with the highest amount of visitor spending.
The months with the greatest visitor spending in Vermont are August, July, October, and September. (April is last, just behind November.)
In the winter, visitors flock to ski towns. But as the 2015 Benchmark Report for Tourism in Vermont notes, “Compared to winter tourism, summer tourism is more evenly distributed. Trying to identify summer tourist towns (Manchester, Woodstock, Ferrisburgh) does not yield the same concentration of lodging receipts.”
Indeed, without skiing, we would have a true boom-and-bust tourism cycle between the summer and every other season.
Tourism is of course extraordinarily important to Vermont’s economy.
Visitor spending supports 30,000 jobs for Vermonters. That’s approximately 8% of all Vermont jobs.
However, as noted by Vermont Business Magazine: “The Vermont economy is substantially more dependent on tourist spending than the US economy in general.”
Sectors of the VT tourism economy like retail and dining are 1 -2x more dependent on visitor spending than the national average.
From one perspective, Vermont’s dependence on tourism may seem unsustainable.
However, from another perspective, it’s a powerful economic engine we should continue to develop. Direct spending by visitors totaled over $1.82 billion in 2015, plus $318m collected in tax and fee revenues for the State of Vermont.
More of that, please. Just don’t forget the sunscreen. Happy summer 2017!