NH a magnet for tourists needing a vacation getaway
Traffic through the state toll system Sunday was up 19 percent from the same weekend last year, according to the Department of Transportation, leading industry analysts to believe the Fourth has already begun in earnest, statewide.
With lowering gas prices and weather reports calling for hot and sunny weather this week — with a few showers — New Hampshire's tourism industry is expected to fare quite well.
Tai Freligh, communications manager for the state Division of Travel and Tourism Development, said a report by the Institute for New Hampshire Studies predicted about 850,000 visitors from out-of-state will come during the six-day period between June 29 and July 4 and are anticipated to spend about $125 million.
And that does not include the numbers coming from the Fourth of July and staying through the end of next weekend, July 8.
Last year, the Fourth of July fell on a Monday, but this year the holiday is spread out, with some people taking the first half of the week off, others taking the second half and some taking the whole period, while some just have Wednesday, Freligh noted.
He said those numbers also do not account for in-state travel, which can be sizable and add to the revenue numbers for attractions, hotels, restaurants and gas stations.
Right now, “Beaches were packed,” he said of the past weekend, and lakes and mountains are also seeing a lot of activity, with water temperatures in the Lakes Region now in the 70s.
The average national price for gas is $3.32 a gallon and Freligh said when the price is lower, people often have more discretionary income to spend on vacation fun.
“The Fourth of July weekend kicks off the busiest part of the summer season for New Hampshire,” said Lori Harnois, director of the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism. “We were teased with great weather back in March and now we are ready to officially start our summer season.”
Freligh said 40 percent of the state's overall tourism business is in the summer and the Independence Day holiday is by far the busiest of the “big four” he said, referring to Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day holidays as the other three.
The second busiest season for tourism is fall but that is only about 20 percent of the overall tourism business in the Granite State.
The report states most of the visitors will be from New England and the Middle Atlantic states. Canadians are anticipated to be visiting New Hampshire at higher levels than last year due to falling gas prices, tax-free shopping and new, higher duty-free limits on purchases made in the United States.
Canada Day, which celebrates the signing of the Constitution Act, was Sunday and most Canadians had Monday off.
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