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Tourism in Genesee County increased significantly in 2013.

In presenting the 2014 tourism budget at Wednesday’s Ways and Means meeting with the Legislature, Chamber of Commerce President Tom Turnbull says it another banner year.

“We know for a fact there was $15.4 million spent in lodging in Genesee County in 2013,” he said. “That’s up from $14 million in 2012 which is a 10 percent increase, which is up from $12.2 million in 2011 which is a 15 percent increase. From that money comes our bed tax money that we use to fund and then turn around and drive more tourism to Genesee County.”

While the Chamber does not expect another double-digit hotel revenue increase for 2014, there are several factors that could mean continued growth: Turnbull points to the water park at the Clarion Hotel on Park Road which has helped bolster the weaker tourism seasons; he also says that general economic recovery means more people are traveling and spending money out of town.

“We also benefited this last year from a lot of people from the yogurt companies staying in the hotels while they were developing them, so there’s some economic tie-in there also with the economic development,” Turnbull said.

The Chamber received $58,000 last year from the I Love New York matching funds. Turnbull says the county has benefited from the emphasis on regional economic development.

“We’ve really taken that to heart here in the Genesee County Chamber,” he said, “and not only have we collaborated, but we’ve taken the lead on a lot of programs that are going on and that makes the dollars go further – you combine them together and it drives more tourism to the area.”

The Chamber has been innovative in promoting regional tourism. Its Haunted History Trail has spread to other counties.

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