Columbus Day weekend, beginning today (Oct. 5), is expected to be one of the best ever in terms of visitors and spending, according to a report prepared for the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development by the Institute for New Hampshire Studies.
Almost 600,000 visitors – an increase of 1% over the record Columbus Day weekend of 2006 – are expected to come from out-of-state during the four-day period, with many arriving today, according to the Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald. The division forecasts they will spend over $97 million during the weekend, an estimated 3% increase over last year.
Columbus Day weekend is the second busiest travel weekend in New Hampshire and traditionally draws the largest percentage of visitors to the state who live outside of New England.
The three fall months of September, October and November have seen the second largest number of visitors to New Hampshire (after the summer season) representing about one quarter of all visitors on an annual basis. While the largest number of visitors arrive from other New England states and New York state, fall foliage attracts visitors from all regions of the country. The Tourism Division expects Canadians and Europeans to be visiting New Hampshire at higher levels than last year.
Resorts, hotels, motels and campgrounds should see a 1% increase in average occupancy rates for the weekend over last year. Many Columbus Day visitors stay with friends and relatives or at their second homes.
In addition to foliage viewing on scenic drives, popular fall activities on Columbus Day weekend in New Hampshire include outdoor recreation, apple picking, fairs, festivals and visits to farm stands and family attractions. Because there is no sales tax in New Hampshire, shopping, including antiquing, is also a popular activity while on a fall vacation in New Hampshire.