Would Rosendale benefit economically if the lakes and trails of the Williams Lake property were to become protected open space, administered in a sustainable way, and accessible to visitors and the public?
Yes. Ecotourists - hikers, cross-country skiers, cyclists, swimmers, fisherman, spelunkers, climbers - represent a significant source of revenue to community businesses. And unlike sequestered spa guests, they are proven supporters of local, community life.
- Consider our most prominent local example, the Mohonk Preserve. Back in 1993 when the last study was conducted, Mohonk Preserve was a tourist destination for 100,000 visitors per year. Today, the number exceeds 150,000.
- Visitors spent between $2.6 million and $3 million per year in the local communities. At the time, it was estimated that the overall impact of the Preserve approached $5 million per year, considering their employment of local people and their work with local vendors.
- It was estimated that visitor spending supported 75 tourism related jobs in Ulster County.
- Almost 10% of visitors stayed at least one night in area motels, bed and breakfasts, or campsites, representing (in 1993) between $700,000 and $900,000. At the time, these visitors accounted for approximately 13,500 room nights per year in area motels and campsites.
- Other purchases (gas, gifts, clothing, books, crafts, outdoor gear etc.) totaled between $500,000 and $600,000 per year.
- Keep in mind that these numbers are not only almost 20 years old, they also do not include the contribution to our region made by The Mohonk Mountain House, which, by the way, welcomes onto its grounds the hikers of the Preserve. Upscale, yes, but it is also both a setting of great natural beauty and a living example of a nice quality-of-life open for all the community to enjoy.
- According to Kerlinger and Hoagland: "Without the economic incentives of ecotourism, lands may be subdivided for housing developments or condominiums. Both eliminate habitat for wildlife and make the area less scenic. In addition, these alternatives are usually less attractive economically than ecotourism because, unlike parks and preserves, people move into houses and condominiums. Once they do, they require services (schools, police, fire, etc.) and infrastructure (roads, bridges etc.) This leads to greater spending by the local government and higher property taxes."
CLICK TO OPEN THE PDF ECOTOURISM A Growth Industry for Rural Communities