Tourists spent $6.1 billion on Long Island in 2018, up 4.5 percent over 2017 — marking the first time tourism here has exceeded $6 billion — according to a new state report.
Philadelphia-based research firm Tourism Economics, in a 44-page study prepared for New York State, found that visitor spending on Long Island was almost evenly split between Nassau and Suffolk counties, with Suffolk visitors spending 17 percent more than Nassau visitors.
The tourism industry on Long Island, which supports 81,735 jobs and represents 6.4 percent of all employment here, generated $2 billion in direct labor income, the report found.
Tourism generated $740 million in state and local tax revenue for the region last year, the report said, an increase of about $15 million from 2017.
First-time initiatives and strategic collaborations have been pivotal in raising Long Island’s profile among visitors and the travel community, said Kristen Jarnagin, president and CEO of Discover Long Island, the region's official tourism agency.
Partnerships, such as the tourism agency's work with Long Island MacArthur Airport on an advertising campaign aimed at visitors from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and the launch of “BeLONG on Long Island,” the agency's branding effort that builds on "the emotional connection that draws visitors and locals to the region," are key to building awareness and excitement for the area, Jarnagin said.
Discover Long Island's recent collaboration with the region’s industrial development agencies to enhance business attraction and retention efforts is also significant, she said.
“These record-breaking numbers for Long Island and across New York State amplify the importance of the tourism industry for our region and our residents,” Jarnagin said.
“These historic numbers are evidence that our strategic efforts and tactical collaborations are succeeding in raising destination awareness and positioning Long Island as an ideal destination for travelers and locals alike.”
Statewide tourism numbers were also record-breaking, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announcedMonday at the closing of the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse. He said "investments to encourage sustainable growth" in tourism statewide mean that "we're seeing the dividends with incredible economic activity and record tourism numbers for the region and the state," he said.