SARATOGA 150 ANNIVERSARY GENERATES RECORD-BREAKING REVENUE FOR CITY AND COUNTY FROM OVERNIGHT VISITORS
150th anniversary season at Saratoga Race Course spurs strong tourism leading to increase in both hotel occupancy and room rates
Data reflects substantial increase in tax revenue for county and city since Saratoga Race Course expanded to 40-day meet
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The City of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors today 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,” said City of Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson. “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.”
“The record revenues reinforce the critical importance of Saratoga Race Course as a tourism magnet for our city and region,” said Saratoga Springs Mayor-Elect Joanne Yepsen. “These robust numbers serve to remind us that Saratoga Race Course is a vital economic engine that is responsible for generating more than 2,000 full-time jobs and more than $200 million in economic activity for our region. I’d like to congratulate The New York Racing Association for hosting a spectacular 150th anniversary meet and I look forward to working closely with Chief Executive Officer Chris Kay to build upon the continued success of Saratoga Race Course for the benefit of our city and its residents.”
“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, who also serves as chair of the County Board of Supervisors Racing Committee. “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 addition of the one weekend at the start of the racing season has really paid dividends for the city and county,” said Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus. “This summer saw the continuation of a strong surge in tourism across the board in both July and August and reflect a sustained interest in and demand for the racing product offered at Saratoga Race Course. Thanks to the efforts of The New York Racing Association, visitors now have more options to sample and enjoy all that Saratoga has to offer and are responding by traveling to our city in record numbers throughout the entire summer season.”
“We saw great success with groups this summer during the 150th anniversary season at Saratoga Race Course,” said Saratoga Convention and Tourism President Todd Garofano. “Sunday through Wednesday gives us the best opportunity to find good hotel room availability and rates and we market Saratoga as such. Overall we worked with 23 groups, representing 3,468 room nights in 2013 compared to 11 groups and 2,198 room nights in 2012. We certainly saw an increase in the number of small corporate groups but also saw the return of larger statewide association conferences. It could not be clearer that Saratoga as a general destination today is stronger than ever in recent history, drawing record numbers of overnight tourists during the months of July and August.”
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 150th anniversary 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.
“We could not be happier with the results of our efforts in promoting a region and an industry so critical to our economic well-being. The 150th anniversary season at Saratoga Race Course and the corresponding city-wide celebration not only attracted racing fans far and wide, but also provided a tremendous economic boost to the county and city,” said Saratoga 150 Committee Chairman Charles Wait. “The entire Saratoga 150 Committee offers our sincere gratitude to all involved in executing an outstanding season of racing and fanfare in celebration of the Saratoga Race Course sesquicentennial.”
“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,” said Saratoga Springs City Center President Mark Baker. “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.