Phyllis, Jerusha and Jonah Kramer, residents of Costa Rica, are enjoying their second vacation in New Hampshire during the fall foliage season and are staying at Cottage Place on Squam Lake in Holderness. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
Overseas tourists find NH foliage a must-see attraction
By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
HOLDERNESS — Tourists from overseas are showing up during New Hampshire's fall foliage season in ever-increasing numbers, much to the delight of businesses like Cottage Place on Squam Lake, where owner Susan Smith says she has hosted visitors from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden and Russia in recent months.
Currently she's hosting a family from Costa Rica, which is making a return visit to the area. She said the foliage season is a big draw for tourists from afar, drawing as many or more than the summer does.
She's seen an upward trend in overseas tourism ever since she and her mother, Beverly Smith, purchased the 1950s era cottage colony in 2002 and refurbished the heritage property while maintaining its rustic interiors.
Phyllis Kramer of Nosara, Costa Rica, is staying at the Cottage Place with her daughter, Jerusha, and grandson, Jonah, who is 7.
Kramer, who grew up in Brooklyn, moved to Costa Rica in 2000 and said her husband, Howard, operates a coffee growing and adventure tourism business there and stayed behind in Costa Rica because he's not a fan of cold weather. "But I like the seasons I grew up with and like to come here for the fall season. This is the best place in the world for great foliage," says Kramer.
She said Jerusha, 28, and Jonah, both hold dual Costa Rican and American citizenships. While staying in Holderness, they have enjoyed visits to the Squam Lakes Science Center, hiking trails around Squam Lake, as well as dining out at the Corner House Inn in Center Sandwich and Walter's Basin Restaurant. They're also looking forward to visits to Funspot, the world's largest arcade, and attending this Saturday's New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in downtown Laconia.
Smith's experience with increased foreign tourism isn't unique.
Joe Ouellette, director of sales and marketing at Mill Falls in Meredith said, "We've had a great 2016 thus far. We've met or surpassed most of our benchmarks for the summer season. Mother Nature was very good to us here in the Lakes Region and that beautiful weather brought a steady stream of guests, both from our transient as well as our group markets. That trend is continuing into the fall. We've had tour groups from Italy, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Mexico, to name a few."
Amy Landers of the Lakes Region Tourism Association said that many member businesses are also reporting increases in foreign visitors which are booked through late October, including many people from Asia and South America,
Lorrie Harnois of Discover New England, which is based in Portsmouth, said New England had 1.25 million overseas visitors in 2005, which grew to 2.18 million by 2015. The total economic impact of those visits was estimated at $2.1 billion in 2015. She points out that those numbers do not include visitors from Canada and Mexico.
Harnois said that visitors cite shopping, sightseeing, art galleries and museums, small towns and countryside, national parks and monuments, history and culture, camping and hiking, as well as snow sports, as reasons why they visit New England.
She says that Discover New England will host a major event with international tourism groups at the Mount Washington Resort next April. She expects that 75 international tour operators and approximately 300 New England tourism industry members will attend the annual Tourism Summit and International Marketplace in April.
"We are planning to have people from the USA, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and the Scandinavian countries." said Harnois. She said Discover New England will have representatives at similar events in Europe, Asia and South America next year.
Susan Smith of Cottage Place on Squam Lake says that she is seeing more overseas visitors in recent years and in recent months has hosted tourists from the United Kingdom, Ireland and Russia. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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