Local tourism drives multi-billion dollar sales

Zoe Greszler • Jul 12, 2018 at 2:00 AM

SANDUSKY — Summer is here and with it comes warmer temperatures, some of the best fishing in the world, and tourists. And thanks to a wide variety of world-class activities, attractions, restaurants, overnight accommodations and more, combined with the marketing power of those businesses and Lake Erie Shores & Islands, the tourism industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds in our region.

According to a recent study conducted by Tourism Economics, visitors helped generate $2.12 billion in tourism sales in 2017, an increase of nearly 8 percent from the 2015 study.

One-third of the total tourism sales in Northwest Ohio ($6.5 billion in 22 counties) are generated in the Lake Erie Shores & Islands region’s two counties, Erie and Ottawa. These numbers help estimate that close to 11 million visitors traveled to the Shores & Islands region in 2017.

Total tourism sales include direct, indirect, and induced spending and represent a number of different economic activities including transportation, recreation, retail, lodging, and food and beverage. The direct sales spending breakdown by sector for our area is approximately 31 percent retail, 20 percent recreation and entertainment, 19 percent food and beverage, 18 percent lodging, and 12 percent transportation. Transportation costs only comprise the cost of air, train, ferry transportation, car rental, etc. Gasoline costs are included in the retail sector.

In the Lake Erie Shores & Islands region, tourism also provides jobs.

One in every four jobs in Erie County is tourism-related as well as one in every six jobs in Ottawa County. Almost 14,000 people are employed within the travel and tourism industry locally. Tourism wages were reported at $357 million in 2017.

“Our mission here is to grow the region’s tourism economy through collaborative promotion that increases visitation and makes Lake Erie Shores & Islands the ideal place to play, live and work,” said president Larry Fletcher. “These numbers help reinforce the fact that tourism is a major economic driver for our region.”

In 2017, the tourism industry in the region also generated $255 million in taxes.


Vehicle sales fall in June

After ringing up two strong months in April and May, the state’s sales of new vehicles dropped in June, falling 3.48 percent when comparing the month with last year.

While Huron County numbers take a little longer to compile, and thus make it harder to compare, vehicle sales represented 22 percent of total county sales tax collections, as of the latest report form county auditor Roland Tkach released in late June, which reflected numbers from March.

“It was a strong month for vehicle sales at 22 percent,” Tkach said.

The county’s total portion of sales tax collected in March was $850,283, which was down from $957,372 the year before.

But, in reality, Tkach said that number is solid because Huron County has lost sales tax collected on Medicaid nursing-home payments.

“All things considered, when we look at our revenue estimate, we’re almost 3 percent ahead of budget,” he said. “Going forward, it looks like our local economy is on the upswing.” 

On the state level, new vehicle dealers sold 21,770 new vehicles in the month compared to 22,565 over the same period a year prior, according to figures released by the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers Association (GCADA).

“New vehicle sales for June slipped after a strong May, leaving us with a relatively flat sales pace over 2017,” said Louis A. Vitantonio, president of the GCADA. “We anticipate a strong July 4th sales push to launch this month’s sales.”

For the year to date, franchised new vehicle dealers have sold 124,336 vehicles this year compared to 125,953 last year at this time, a decrease of 1.28 percent. Sales of trucks, SUVs and crossovers fell 4.26 percent in June throughout the state, and are off just under one percent for the year.

The state’s car sales were slightly stronger than the larger vehicles last month with dealers selling 12,182 cars in June compared with 12,540 cars sold over the same time a year prior, a decrease of just 2.85 percent.

“While we expect sales to remain strong, there will be some fluctuations in the market,” added Vitantonio. “Sales should also pick up as new 2019 models enter the market in the months ahead.”

Chevrolet continued to edge out Ford as Northern Ohio’s best-selling brand, selling 3,289 new vehicles in the month compared to 3,115 units for the Blue Oval. Honda took home the bronze medal for June sales, selling 1,906 new vehicles compared to 1,735 new vehicles for its offshore rival Toyota. Jeep followed with 1,719 new vehicles sold in the month, an increase of 11.84 percent over last June’s sales.

There were 15 makes that came out stronger year-over-year. The following brands posted sales increases in June of 2018 versus June of 2017: Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Chevrolet, GMC, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Maserati, Mazda, Nissan, Porsche, Ram, Rolls-Royce, Subaru and Volvo.

The following 16 brands have posted sales increases for the year to date: Acura, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, GMC, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Ram, Rolls-Royce, Subaru, Volkswagen and Volvo.


ASA hires new director

The American Soybean Association (ASA) announced the selection of Wendy Brannen as its new director of policy communication, based in its Washington, D.C. office.

“Wendy brings a breadth of knowledge and experience in agriculture, media and marketing to our communications team,” said ASA CEO Ryan Findlay. “We look to her leadership and innovative spirit to take us to the next level as we set the course for future soybean policy.”

Brannen is a marketing communications leader with 12 years of experience managing non-profit marketing organizations and related promotional programs. She comes to ASA after two years serving as executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission in California, where she oversaw communications strategies, research projects, export initiatives and member relations. She previously directed consumer health marketing and public relations at the U.S. Apple Association and served as executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee, where she developed strategic marketing programs. Brannen is an experienced broadcast reporter, producer and anchor.

“Wendy will play a key role in identifying strategies for ASA to communicate with increasingly food-conscious consumers as well as with the soybean farmers we represent and with government policymakers,” said John Gordley, director of ASA’s Washington office.


NEXUS update: Health concerns spur protest

MEDINA — Concerned citizens from Medina County walked onto a Nexus pipeline construction site bearing coffee and donuts. The protesters halted construction on Ohio 162 near the Medina County Country Club and the University of Akron until they were eventually ordered off-site by state troopers, but continued to protest on the side of the road.

Many of the protesters wore signs that read “Caution: NEXUS Cancer Zone.”

“I’m doing it because I’m concerned about all the illness it’s going to bring and all the environmental problems we are going to have with our water and air,” one member of the collective said. “Our health will be impacted down the road, and I don’t understand why people with children will let this happen.”

This is an example of just one of the several peaceful protests carried out in opposition to the construction of the NEXUS natural gas pipeline recently.

Last month, protesters dressed as “climate angels” shut down a construction site on Ohio 3 for several hours during a thunderstorm. Carrying a banner that said “Haunt Nexus,” the protesters said they were engaged in a “sacred fight” against the “devastation wrought by fossil fuel domination.”

The Nexus pipeline, owned by Enbridge Inc., is 36 inches in diameter, and will carry fracked natural gas from Eastern Ohio to Canada, running across Northern Ohio and part of Eastern Michigan. In Northeast Ohio, ground trenching is well underway, and in some sights, burial of the pipe has begun.

The group is particularly concerned by the Wadsworth Compressor Station, which increases pressure along the pipeline in order to transport the natural gas. Protesters have said the station will emit carcinogenic toxins including formaldehyde, radon, benzene and toluene, which could result in life-threatening health impacts to those who live and work within five miles of the compressor station.


EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have an item for the business roundup column, send the information to the Norwalk Reflector in care of Zoe Greszler, 61 E. Monroe St., Norwalk, Ohio 44857, or email [email protected]

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