560,000 leaf-peepers expected for Columbus weekend

More than 560,000 out-of-state visitors are expected to take part in leaf-peeping for the upcoming Columbus Day Weekend, according to estimates released Tuesday by the state Division of Travel and Tourism Development.

According to a report put together for the division by the Institute for New Hampshire Studies at Plymouth State University, the total number of 2006 Columbus Day visitors should rise by 3 percent over last year. These visitors are expected to spend more than $95 million during the three-day weekend, up by 5 percent over a year ago, according to the report.

The division said most of the visitors for the weekend will come from New England and New York state, although Canadians are anticipated to come to New Hampshire in greater numbers than last year and the number of visitors from Europe will also increase.

The report said that resorts, hotels, motels and campgrounds should each see a 2 percent increase in average occupancy rates for the weekend over last year. — JEFF FEINGOLD

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