New Report reveals that Canal Events and Tours Generate $1.5 Billion in Annual Economic Impact

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.”

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.

The recent opening of the NYS Canal System also marks the 100th anniversary of the Erie Barge Canal in 1918. 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 here.

The overall impact of the NYS Canal System measured in this report is impressive and marks the most recent look at the value this historic waterway provides to the more than 200 communities located along the corridor. In 2014, Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation released an economic impact study of the Erie Canalway Trail that revealed that the 1.6 million annual visits to the trail generate an economic impact of more than $250 million. 

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.

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