A study says money spent on groceries, snacks, alcohol and gas is often unaccounted for in tourism surveys.
Local destinations like Roseland Water Park and the Arbor Hill Grapery aren’t the only places tourists spend their travel dollars.
Summer visitors buy everything from six-packs to suntan lotion, and a survey commissioned by travel magazine TravelHost of Rochester and the Finger Lakes states that the top three locations where tourists shop are discount superstores, supermarkets and drug stores.
Associate Publisher Carol White Llwellyn of TravelHost of Rochester calls these profits “the invisible dollar,” as opposed to money spent at hotels, restaurants, malls and other operations typically thought of as tourist destinations.
“One of the things I’ve noticed when we’re traveling is how often we go into supermarkets and convenient stores and plunk down money for things like snacks, batteries for things like a camera and suntan lotion,” said White Llewellyn. “The impact of the traveler and the tourist is even stronger than we think.”
The study surveyed about 130 business executives and travelers who take three or more overnight trips per year. But the results of that statistically small sampling ring true with local merchants.
Liquor stores are one of the areas where, according to the study, so-called invisible travel dollars are plenty visible, said Don Bombace, owner of Bombace Wine and Spirits in Farmington.
“We get a lot of folks traveling to the Finger Lakes, winery tours,” he said of the summer travel season. “It’s a good stop on the way.”
Bombace said his store’s busiest time is in November and December, when locals are stocking up on holidays spirits. But as soon as spring arrives, tourists come in herds to get popular favorites like Finger Lakes wines, mixed drinks, gin and rum.
“We’re getting a lot of people that do visit this area,” he said. “When they’re coming from out of town, we have to provide things for them.”
Bombace said his store catches the eyes of tourists who are leaving the Thruway in Farmington. This includes many Canadian tourists. The value of the American dollar has been dropping, meaning that Canadians can buy goods for less money with their currency.
At Canandaigua Minitz, a convenience store on Route 332 in Canandaigua, gas and cold drinks are what tourists are after.
“Business picks up quite a bit here in the summer,” said manager Dereck Joslyn.
Wegmans also sees a bump in profits in the summer, said Jo Natale, director of media relations. Natale said Wegmans supermarkets see an 18- to 20-percent boost in business during the summer and early fall months. People staying on the lake and visiting relatives come to stock up on provisions.
“Their visitors are our tourists,” said Natale. “Canandaigua is in particular a place where we see our tourist trade.”
Contact Stephanie Bergeron at (585)394-0770, Ext. 255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.