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Canal Events and Tours Generate $1.5 Billion in Annual Economic Impact

May 7, 2018

For Immediate Release
Contact: Jean Mackay, Director of Communications and Outreach
518-237-7000, ext. 222; 518-925-6721 (cell)

WATERFORD, NY- As the nation celebrates National Travel and Tourism Week May 6 – 12, 2018, a new study of the economic impact of events and tours in the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor calls attention to the power of tourism along New York State's iconic canals. An estimated $1.5 billion annually is generated by events, boat tours, bicycle and paddle-sport rentals and historic site/museum tours along the Erie, Champlain, Owsego and Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Events and tours drew 3.3 million visitors in 2017.

“Not only are these events and recreational tours a fun way to experience what the canal system has to offer, they provide a significant return on investment for host communities," said Bob Radliff, Executive Director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. “In partnership with the National Park Service and the NYS Canal Corporation, we are proud to consistently support and promote many of these endeavors and are now pleased to see the impressive economic impact revealed in this report."

The economic analysis was conducted by Level 7 Market Research for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor through its nonprofit affiliate, the Erie Canalway Heritage Fund, Inc., and supported by a grant from Market New York through I LOVE NEW YORK, the state's Division of Tourism, as a part of the Regional Economic Development Council awards.

Over the last 10 years, the number of events in the Canalway Corridor has increased dramatically to include concerts, arts festivals, cycling and paddling events, celebrations of local foods and beverages, and events that focus on history and heritage. According to the NYS Canal Corporation website, the 2017 calendar held more than 470 events.

New York State Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, "The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is one of New York State's tourism treasures. With countless opportunities to experience the Canal's rich history and the attractions in surrounding communities, there's no time like the present to include the Canal in your next New York State vacation."

“Two centuries ago, a narrow ribbon of water just 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide fueled the economic ascendancy of the Empire State. Today's Canal System builds on the legacy of the original Erie Canal, continuing to serve as the economic lifeblood of the cities, towns, and villages that line this iconic waterway's banks," said Brian U. Stratton, Director of the New York State Canal Corporation. “As we prepare for our 194th consecutive season of operation, we look forward to yet another year of great events and canal attractions generating revenue for small businesses and economic benefits for canal communities."

The eastern Erie Canal from Waterford to Brewerton is scheduled to open May 15, weather permitting, with an opening ceremony to take place at Lock 2 in Waterford at 10am. The entire canal system is set to open on May 18.

This year's event highlights include: the 20th Anniversary of Cycle the Erie Canal bike tour, organized by Parks & Trails New York, and the cross canal journey of the Corning Museum of Glass GlassBarge,traveling with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's canal schooner Lois McClure.

Read the full Canal Event Analysis and Visitor Research Study at:

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor spans 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York, encompassing the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Oswego, and Champlain canals and their historic alignments, as well as more than 230 canal communities. Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission and the Erie Canalway Heritage Fund work in partnership to preserve our extraordinary heritage, to promote the Corridor as a world class tourism destination, and to foster vibrant communities connected by the waterway.


Photo credit: Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor