On Tuesday, March 19, Dutchess Tourism, Inc., unveiled a research report examining tourism trends in the region that will serve as a foundation for a strategic initiative to expand the visitor market in the Hudson Valley, which generated approximately $600 million in revenue in Dutchess County alone in 2017. Held at Locus Grove Estate in Poughkeepsie and introduced by Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, the presentation showcased efforts to promote tourism throughout Dutchess County, and highlighted not only areas of attraction, but also identified areas in need of development in order to continue expansion in the future.
To begin the presentation, President and CEO of Dutchess County Tourism, Mary Kay Vrba, outlined travel related spending and tourist activity across New York State. In 2017, the Hudson Valley was ranked the #3 tourist destination region in the state. Within the Hudson Valley, Dutchess County ranked second, behind Westchester.
Vrba presented the findings of a lodging-market analysis, aimed at identifying trends and needs for guest lodging throughout the county. Currently, there are approximately 3,000 rooms for rent in Dutchess County, including over 500 units rented through AirBnB and VRBO sites. “We’ve seen an explosion of short-term rentals,” explained Vrba. Over the past year, the county has seen a 6.5% increase in the demand for room rentals. “The demand is still there, and our supply is growing, especially as the number of farms and craft breweries are increasing,” she added. Statistics presented reveal that room rentals are at their highest during the summer months, with a significant dip in the winter months.
Over the past year, Dutchess Tourism conducted a survey to compile a visitor profile for tourists in Dutchess County. Of the respondents to the survey, 862 were guests staying overnight for leisure, 1,852 were leisure day trippers, 149 were visiting for business, and 1,299 were visitors to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
Respondents to the survey listed unique dining establishments, scenery, and recreation activities as their top three factors in deciding to visit Dutchess County. Specifically, visitors listed wineries, historic sites, and special events such as festivals and concerts among the top reasons for their visit. County wide, visitors cited the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, the Walkway Over the Hudson, The Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Millbrook Vineyards and Winery, and the Appalachian Trail as the top tourist destinations. The Dutchess County Fair and the Rhinebeck Crafts Festival were listed among the most popular events for tourists. “This data represents positive news for the county,” said Vrba.
Within Dutchess County, visitors ranked Hyde Park, Poughkeepsie, and Rhinebeck as the top three destinations. Pawling ranked #11, with 1.3% of survey respondents listing the Town and Village as a leisure day trip destination.
Respondents to the survey were also polled on their interest in a number of prospective attractions to help improve tourism in Dutchess County. Of the choices offered, those surveyed expressed the most interest in additional Hudson River waterfront shopping and entertainment, a Hudson River Boat tour, and greater availability of land based outdoor experiences including hiking, cycling, and camping.
For more information and full tourism statistics from the presentation, visit DutchessTourism.com online.