ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County had a banner 2022 year for tourism. New York State announced the numbers this month, and Visit Rochester (Monroe County’s tourism arm) says it’s a big rebound post-pandemic.

New York State said that in 2022, visitor and touring spending in the Finger Lakes region grew to $4 billion, which amounts to 122% of 2019 levels. Monroe County makes up $1.3 billion of that regional total.

Don Jeffries, president of Visit Rochester, added that Monroe County brought in $148 million more in revenue compared to 2019. Jeffries says in this county alone, tourism represents 17,000 jobs.

As for reasons people visit, Jeffries highlighted:

  • Natural beauty
  • Affordability
  • Hundreds of events that are produced regionally each year
  • Nearly 150 festivals throughout the year
  • Cultural density (plenty of museums, unique arts and music)
  • Great food

Rochester and the Finger Lakes’ central location to many Canadian and American East Coast cities, as well as the area’s “driveability” make it appealing for tourism.

“We calculate there are 75 different family activities within an hour’s drive of Rochester, so it’s pretty cool to bring tour family here,” Jeffries said.

“Where else can you be in a major metropolitan area like Rochester, and then 45 minutes be in the heart of the Finger Lakes,” he continued. “There’s so much to do here. You go to The Strong, you do all the fun things here, the great restaurants, we book about 200 meetings and conventions a year, and 125 sporting events, so that creates a lot of tourist people that come to town, and they bring their families.”

But visit Rochester is already looking ahead to 2024; they’re planning a huge hockey event, as prepping for the eclipse.

“Greenville, South Carolina in total eclipse, they were the easternmost city. We are the easternmost city. They (brought in) 350,000 people. We’ve been working on this for over a year,” Jeffries said. “Don’t book anything for April 8 of next year, because it’s gonna be crowded.”

Jeffries says that with the PGA Championship this year — as well as a large NCAA event — we can expect another big bump in tourism numbers for 2023.