Labor Day visitor spending expected to increase

Unlike the leaves that are already beginning to fall in some parts of New Hampshire, visitor spending for the coming Labor Day weekend is expected to rise.According to a report by the Institute for New Hampshire Studies for the state Division of Travel and Tourism Development, some 530,000 visitors are expected to visit the state from Thursday through Monday — a 2 percent increase over last year. The visitors are expected to spend about $71 million, up 5 percent from 2009. Lodging facilities and campgrounds should see an increase of 3 percent from last year, according to the report. Most of the visitors will be from New England and New York.With the start of the school year coming before the Labor Day weekend this year in many areas, the visitors are expected to be taking day trips instead of longer excursions. All important to this Labor Day weekend is the weather. With Hurricane Earl barreling across the Atlantic Ocean toward the Eastern Seaboard, the potential for unfavorable, even severe, weather on Friday exists. That said, forecasters are predicting the remainder the weekend will be pleasant with mild temperatures and lower humidity. Mike Somers of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association said his members are positive, but keeping an eye to the sky for possible approaching weather.”Most are expecting the number of visitors to be up over last year,” he said. “I’ve made a handful of calls around the state and most are at 90 percent occupancy or better, which is very good.”Somers said this Labor Day weekend comes off the heels of a “very strong” August for many of the association’s 700 members.”Our members have been pretty optimistic about Labor Day,” said Nancy Kyle, president of the Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire.She said the association’s 800 members have had a “pretty decent summer so far.””Labor Day weekend is a huge weekend for retail,” said Kyle. “From the last couple of weeks in August, you have back-to-school shopping as well as the end of the summer travel season.”She also said the changing seasons bring sidewalk sales, often a lucrative activity for merchants changing their inventory and for shoppers hunting for closeout bargains.However, the recession still lurks in the background of visitors’ buying decisions.”Visitor spending is still a bit cautious,” he said. “They are willing to pay more, but want value for what they spend.”The Labor Day holiday is the second busiest weekend of the year for the New Hampshire tourism industry behind Independence Day. – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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