Study finds hikers spend $3.9 million locally per year
A study by the University of Maine’s School of Economics included 500 hours of fieldwork and surveys of both visitors to the Boothbay region and local residents. It showed 63,832 visits to the trust’s preserves and hiking trails between April and November 2012. This translates into 13,081 unique users.
“We saw a lot of cars with out-of-state license plates, from all over the Northeast,” said Todd Gabe, professor of economics at the University of Maine. “The visitors we spoke with really loved the trails.”
A survey of trail users conducted by the researchers suggests that those who are visitors to the region spend an average of $73.77 per day and seasonal residents of the Boothbay region spend an average of $57.94 per day.
The researchers calculated that the annual economic impact from visitors to BRLT preserves was $3.9 million in revenue, generating 39 full-time and part-time jobs and $1.1 million in related labor income. The study was funded by a private grant to the land trust.
“To put the BRLT use figures into perspective,” Gabe said, “based on state park visitation numbers from a 2006 study, BRLT preserves have significantly more visitors than about three-quarters of Maine’s state parks.”
A high percentage of visitors, when asked why they came to the area, cited outdoor recreation as a draw to the Boothbay region. “That was more popular than restaurants and shopping,” the professor said.
“We believe this study is a significant resource of data that helps show what a great resource the trails are to the area not only to visitors but also to our local community,” said Nicholas Ullo, Executive Director of Boothbay Region Land Trust.
Other survey findings include:
• 94 percent of Boothbay region residents who responded felt it was important to protect open space for animal habitats.
• 93 percent of residents felt access to the waterfront was important.
• 91 percent of residents felt it was important to protect open space for the enjoyment of future generations.
The university received a 42 percent response rate to its survey for preserve visitors. “That’s a really high response rate for this type of survey,” Gabe said, “and the response to the resident survey was even stronger (50 percent).”