NY park attendance grew slightly during summer

ALBANY -- New York saw an increase of more than 120,000 visits to state parks this summer compared to last summer, and the state has extended swimming at state park facilities until Sept. 18.

There were roughly 38.4 million visitors to New York’s parks between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, a 0.3 percent increase from 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said.

Between the 2013 summer season and this year, parks attendance jumped 12 percent as the state has pledged nearly $1 billion to rehab its 180 state parks and 35 historic sites.

“New York State Parks had another tremendous season, with visitors enjoying their time swimming, camping, golfing, hiking and touring historic sites,” parks commissioner Rose Harvey said in a statement.

New York has the oldest parks system in the nation, and Cuomo's administration has invested heavily in ads to promote tourism.

Some parks had significant growth in visitors this summer season.

Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes had a 3 percent increase in visitors from last summer, with attendance hitting 655,407.

In the Hudson Valley, visitors to Bear Mountain State Park grew 2.3 percent increase, exceeding more than 1 million visits.

Despite an overall increase in park visitors, attendance at some parks fell, records from the parks department showed.

Letchworth State Park in the Finger Lakes and Jones Beach on Long Island saw declines, 7.2 percent and 7 percent, respectively, from the last year.

At Letchworth, the number of visitors dropped from 466,929 last year to 433,492 this summer.

Niagara Falls State Park, the most visited park in the state, also had a small decline from last summer to this summer: down 1.3 percent to 6.7 million visitors.

The Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie also had a small drop this summer: a 1.5 percent decline to 209,000 visitors, the records showed.

This summer, due to extreme heat, Cuomo twice extended swimming hours at state park beaches and pools, which helped with attendance.

“This administration has made an unprecedented investment in our state park system, bringing new facilities, new energy and – as these numbers show – increased attendance during the summer season,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The governor announced the extension of the swimming season at state parks until Sunday, Sept. 18, at the following facilities:

Western New York
· Allegany State Park Quaker Area: Sept. 10, 11, 17 and 18, from 11 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.
· Beaver Island: Sept. 10, 11, 17 and 18, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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