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Oneida County tourism up for the summer

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Oneida County tourism up for the summer
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Oneida County Tourism made the surprising prediction at the beginning of the summer that local tourism would be heating up this year. Now as summer rolls over to fall, our Andrew Sorensen hit some of the county's favorite summer spots to see if they were right.

SYLVAN BEACH, N.Y. -- It may be a bit of a dead day at the beach, but that's not to say this summer was for the birds.

"It's been very busy, we've been very lucky, had great weather and a lot of people have come out to enjoy the weather," Harpoon Eddy's waitress Melissa Santamaria said.

At the beginning of the summer, Oneida County Tourism predicted the economy might push people to stay closer to home and give a boost to tourism based business. Santamaria, working at Harpoon Eddy's on Sylvan Beach, says they might be right. She actually has more people on her hands every summer.

"A lot of people aren't traveling by airplane or by car farther distances and they want to stay local," she said.

Tourism officials say the initial numbers on this summer are way up, showing some historical sites with a whopping 50 percent growth. Sylvan Beach says so many people were boating, they were five abreast in the canal. And the hotel industry has seen a steady climb of three percent.

Oneida County Tourism accurately predicted the way the economy would play out for many of these tourism destinations, but there were some unpredictable factors making sure the beaches were the coolest place to be.

"Nothing brings in the crowds like hot weather and high gas prices," Delta Lake State Park Manager Laura Tully said.

Officials at Delta Lake State Park say that instead of plunging into their wallets during a summer of record heat and gas prices, 30,000 extra people took the plunge into Delta Lake.

"The nice thing about coming to a place like this is unlike some of the other options to spend your day, is when you pay seven dollars to get it, that's for the whole car load," she said.

And everyone loves convenience, especially with the little ones.

"We were actually just saying on our way here. We're so lucky to have a beach five minutes down the road. Who else is lucky enough to have that?" Jillian Olney, who brought her one-year-old son out to the beach for the first time, asked.

As the dog days of summer give way to fall, many businesses are hoping this new trend sticks to bring everyone back again year after year.

Oneida County Tourism officials are crossing their fingers that the summer boost will roll over into the winter.

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