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Saratoga County tourism impact near $1B annually

Mark Mulholland
Updated: November 13, 2019 07:24 PM
Created: November 13, 2019 05:39 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - It should come as no surprise that Saratoga Race Course leads the county's tourism economy, but according to an index released Wednesday by the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, the county isn't a one-horse town.

"Like any industry, you don't want to rely on one thing, so you try to diversify," said Marty Vanags, president of the partnership, a county-backed economic development organization.

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According to the partnership, hospitality and tourism has a $1 billion annual impact on the county economy, thanks to the track, SPAC, the Saratoga Springs City Center and even Saratoga Battlefield which has seen a major spike lately driven in part by the popularity of the Broadway show "Hamilton."

NYRA CEO David O'Rourke was part of a panel discussion during Wednesday's luncheon, telling the crowd that this year's meet was so successful that they'll ask the state to approve a similar schedule for 2020.

If approved, the Saratoga racing season will begin Thursday, July 17 and end after racing on Labor Day. Like 2019, there will be 40 days of racing, with no racing on Mondays and Tuesdays.

"The data suggested the current format fits best for the majority. There might be certain businesses that would prefer the Tuesday, Wednesday, but we made a consensus decision and we're just going to stick with this for now," said O'Rourke.

The major challenge to businesses like NYRA, according to data released Wednesday, is finding people to fill the positions.

However, Vanags says a strong tourism economy helps attract employees in other areas.

"You want a beautiful place, a wonderful place, a cool place to live that attracts people - that attracts talent, that fills the jobs outside the tourism industry."


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