Friday, 15 November 2013 14:10

150th Racing Season Draws Surge of Tourism

By Staff Report | News
SARATOGA SPRINGS —The City of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors this week announced record-breaking revenues from hotel room reservations during the 150th anniversary season at Saratoga Race Course. Officials from the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors and the City of Saratoga Springs joined representatives from the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau and the Saratoga 150 Committee to formally release the numbers during a news conference at the Saratoga Springs City Center. Saratoga County netted $327,034 for its general fund from occupancy taxes levied on room reservations during the period from June 1 to August 31, 2013, an all-time record, and a 3.5 percent increase over the corresponding quarter from the previous year. Saratoga County receives one percent of revenue from all taxable room reservations which reached a record-high of $32,703,401 during the summer of the 150th anniversary celebration at Saratoga Race Course. The city of Saratoga Springs reported even higher gains with a net record windfall of $1,152,500 from room reservations within its boundaries, a 4.1 percent increase over last summer. Overall net revenue from room reservations within the city reached a record high of $23,049,996 between June 1 and August 31. “Saratoga Springs has a rich heritage as a tourist destination and resort town, especially in the summer months. The numbers announced today highlight the region’s stature as one of New York’s premiere travel locations,” City of Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson said. “The record-breaking revenues gained from the strong summer tourism season will only further elevate the city’s standing as we continue to draw visitors from across the nation to experience the Spa.” “These numbers unequivocally demonstrate that the lure of Saratoga Springs is stronger than ever, with record-breaking figures across the board in conjunction with a milestone anniversary season at Saratoga Race Course,” said Saratoga Springs Supervisor Matthew Veitch. “Our success is a reflection of the many signature attractions that bring tourists to our region: the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Casino and Raceway, the many fine museums and cultural attractions, and our vibrant downtown with its shops and restaurants. Primarily, however, today’s announcement validates the demand for thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs and is a testament to the strength and vitality of Saratoga Race Course and its current 40-day meet.” The city’s portion from occupancy taxes is divided among three entities: the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau nets $461,000; the Saratoga Springs City Center receives $461,000; and the city’s general fund garners $230,500. This year’s numbers have also nearly doubled from the start of the millennium. In 2001, Saratoga County netted $166,815 from hotel room reservations during the summer months or just a little more than half of the current revenue total of $327,034. Dating back to 2009, the last year when Saratoga ran a 36-day meet before increasing its length to 40 days, county revenue has increased by 32 percent while the city of Saratoga Springs has benefitted from a 27 percent increase. The record intake for the county and city stemmed from solid increases in both occupancy and room rates. Demand for hotel rooms in Saratoga County surged to 87.7 percent in August 2013, a 3.1 percent increase over the previous year, and to 81.7 percent in July 2013, a 3 percent increase over the previous July. Demand for rooms in the City of Saratoga Springs was similarly robust, with an 89.2 percent occupancy rate in August 2013, a 2.4 percent increase from August 2012, and an 82.9 percent occupancy rate in July 2013, a 2.7 percent increase from July 2012. Strong demand also helped spur higher pricing. Hoteliers were able to charge more during the 150thanniversary season, with nightly room rates in the city of Saratoga Springs averaging $252.46 in August 2013, a 7.3 percent increase over the previous August, and $191.34 in July 2013, a 5.5 percent increase over July 2012. Nightly room rates in Saratoga County averaged $219.73 in August 2013, a 6.6 percent increase over August 2012, and $170.97 in July 2013, a 4.9 percent increase over July 2012. “The success of the summer season as represented here today is a testimony not only to the popularity of Saratoga Race Course and the 150th anniversary celebration, but also shows that Saratoga Springs is a destination in its own right,” Saratoga Springs City Center President Mark Baker said. “The racing season, programming at Saratoga Performing Arts Center and our spectacular downtown scene create a truly desirable location for visitors and tourists.” The months of July and August coincided with The New York Racing Association’s annual summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course and marked the culmination of the year-long celebration honoring the 150th anniversary of the first organized thoroughbred race meeting in Saratoga, which took place over the course of four days in August 1863.
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