Visitors to the Erie Canalway Trail this summer may encounter students wanting to know more about their visit as part of a an economic impact study being conducted by the statewide not-for-profit advocacy group, Parks & Trails New York (PTNY). Paul Scipione, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Business and Director of the Survey/Research Center at SUNY Geneseo is leading the eight-month effort.
Throughout July and August, Dr. Scipione and his team will survey 600-800 current trail users to gather data on demographics, trail usage and spending patterns, and overall trail experience. Approximately 30 SUNY Geneseo undergraduates who live within the Canalway Trail corridor will administer the survey to persons selected randomly at multiple points along the trail. In addition, students will be noting the number and nature of trail users as part of an expansion of the annual Erie Canalway Trail count.
Students will also survey local business owners and government, economic development and tourism officials. The information obtained from the surveys will be used to ascertain current and potential economic impacts of the Erie Canalway Trail on New York’s economy, in terms of dollars as well as jobs generated and sustained. Study results will be published in early 2013.
“We are certain the Erie Canalway Trail has a positive effect on the economy of hundreds of local communities, but we don’t presently have statistically valid data to back that up. We look forward to receiving the survey results and sharing them with business owners, elected officials, and community residents,” said PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin.
Dr. Scipione has directed more than 1,000 research studies, a number of which have dealt with travel and tourism, recreational venues and the measurement of quality-of-life issues.
Parks & Trails New York is the leading nonprofit organization, working since 1985, to expand, protect and promote a network of parks, trails and open space throughout New York State through advocacy, outreach, technical assistance to communities, and promotion of bicycle tourism. For more than a decade, PTNY has actively promoted the Canalway Trail through its annual Cycling the Erie Canal tours- popular guidebook, Cycling the Erie Canal: A guide to 400 miles of adventure and history along the Erie Canalway Trail– and interactive on line version of its guidebook. PTNY has also worked with local business people and elected officials to attract and meet the needs of bicycle tourists in their communities through its Bicyclists Bring Business workshops and guidebook, Bicyclists Bring Business: A Guide for Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canal Communities. For more information, go to www.ptny.org.
The study is funded in part by the New York State Canal Corporation and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.