Business owners affected by high water reflect on 2019 tourism season

wwny Business owners affected by high water reflect on 2019 tourism season

ST. LAWRENCE RIVER, N.Y. (WWNY) - Business owners in the Thousand Islands reflect on 2019 - a year of high water levels and it wasn’t good. It wasn’t as bad as 2017 when floods hit then too.

Sarah Ellen Smith from St. Lawrence Pottery in the town of Orleans says her store was one of the 73 percent of businesses that reported being satisfied or pleased with the 2019 summer tourist season.

"We didn't find a terrible effect from the high water. We are a little bit further away and the water is essentially not affecting us," she said.

More than 200 business took part in the annual 1000 Islands International Tourism Council survey.

“Despite the high water levels, people felt pretty good about the season. Performance wasn’t as great in the past couple of years but satisfaction rates weren’t as low as 2017. I think that’s a reflection of the fact that people are adjusting their expectations when we have those water levels,” said Corey Fram, tourism director, 1000 Islands International Tourism Council.

Coyote Moon Vineyards is another business which took part in the survey. One of its stores is on the waterfront.

“We have seen better years. Our numbers were down a little bit from previous years,” said Kristina Ives, owner, Coyote Moon Vineyards.

67 percent of business owners surveyed say water levels had a negative impact on the tourism season. That's down from 2 percent from 2017, another year of severe flooding.

"I think the river community suffers from high water. Between fishing charters, island cottages not being occupied, those kinds of things. We depend on those summer residents who live out on those islands to bring their family and friends in," said Ives.

Another part of the survey: 60 percent of business owners predicted tourism in the Thousand Islands will continue to improve over the next 5 years.

"There are less people traveling out of the country and I think people are discovering the St. Lawrence River," said Smith.

"Clayton is becoming a more well known small town in this area. They are doing a lot to improve the streets here and doing a lot of renovations," said Ives.

And to help with growth, the tourism council will be receiving $120,000 from the state for a marketing campaign to help combat the negative effects of high water.

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