Boating Economic Impact Survey to be conducted: NY

Article Posted: January 14, 2004

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Boating Economic Impact Survey to be conducted;
New York Sea Grant Summit Unites Recreational Boating Groups

A January 2004 survey funded by New York Sea Grant will ask 6,000 of New York Stateıs 528,114 registered boaters about the money they spend pursuing their water-based pastime.

³This survey is designed to give the boating community an understanding of just how large their economic clout is on New York Stateıs economy,² says New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Program Coordinator Dave White.

Nancy Connelly, a research specialist with Cornell Universityıs Natural Resources Department Human Dimensions Research Unit, will be conducting the survey.

³Each and every survey response is important in estimating the economic impact of boaters on not only boating licenses and supplies and marina fees, but also on related expenditures for meals, shopping and the like,² says Connelly.

In December, New York Sea Grant, the United States Power Squadron and the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary held the first-ever Boaterıs Summit. Leaders from the boating community came together from across upstate New York State:
* the Niagara River-Buffalo area
* Rochester
* Syracuse
* Binghamton
* Watertown
* 1000 Islands region
* Ithaca
* Utica.

Representatives of New York Sea Grant, the Empire States Marine Trades Association, Cornell University, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Boating Industries Association of Central New York spoke on emerging issues that are impacting boating in upstate New York.

Boating Community Faces Critical Issues

³Some of the critical issues affecting the boating community include: water level management, dredging, the economic and environmental impacts of boating, and the effect of terrorism on boating,² says White. ³By organizing the diverse organizations and groups in upstate New York, we can offer boaters the opportunity to provide their unique input on emerging issues, initiatives and regulations aimed at making boating safer and the environment cleaner.²

Will Kirnie, representing the United States Power Squadron District 6 tasked with supervision of all areas of New York State west of the Hudson River, notes, ³This Summit drew an enthusiastic representation of recreational boaters from all over upstate New York. As a group, recreational boaters put a lot of money into the economy, but we get no bang for our bucks. We need to learn to communicate with each other and to speak with a unified voice on the issues that affect us.²

Kirnie says his Boaterıs Summit connections will help the Power Squadron, which celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2004, reach larger and new audiences for its boating safety and etiquette programs.

As a group, marina operators, marine business owners and those interested in boating will have a much larger voice than one small business owner alone. Weıve identified the issues; now we need clout with the agencies and regulators,² says Dennis Montgomery of Cayuga Wooden Boatworks in Ithaca.

Tourism Businesses Also Impacted by Boating Issues

³Restaurateurs on both of the St. Lawrence River have felt the effects of the post 9-11 rules on boaters,² says Dennis Honeywell, director of the Boating Industries Association of Central New York. Honeywell spoke on terrorism, tourism and boating at the Summit.

³The regulations this past summer were cumbersome. As a result, boaters were not sure what to do and so were not traveling. The groups attending this Sea Grant workshop are looking for ways to make boating more comfortable for tourists,² says Honeywell.

US Coast Guard Auxiliary Division 2 Captain Linda M. Oltz says, ³One of the benefits of the Summit is the networking. The Auxiliaryıs interest is in recreational boating, including equipment requirements and safety issues and in how we can disseminate correct information to the average ŒJoe Boaterı in a timely fashion. An example is getting the information out regarding the new equipment for operating a personal watercraft (PWC; Jet Ski, Sea Doo, etc.) As of January 1, 2004, all those operating a PWC in New York State have to have completed a boating class regardless of their age and must carry onboard their certificate,² Oltz explains.

Wayne Hale, Jr., manager of Orleans County Marine Park on Lake Ontario, says, ³We deal with boater issues year-round, but with only a small voice and in a piecemeal approach, harbor-by-harbor. The Summit and the boater survey are good first steps toward organizing a coalition to bring these larger-than-local concerns to the forefront with regulators, legislators, funding sources and tourism marketing groups.²

Summit Follow-Up Planned for May

New York Sea Grant, the US Power Squadron and USCG Auxiliary are planning a follow-up meeting to the Boaterıs Summit for May 2004. Watch for details.

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