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      Onondaga County sees big benefits from tourism

      Tourism is on the rise throughout New York State including Onondaga County.

      According to a report by Philadelphia based Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, tourism in New York State grew by 6.2% in 2012. In Onondaga County tourism increase 3.5%.

      According to the report, visitor spending pumped $57.3 billion dollars into the state economy, of which $764 million was spent in Onondaga County.

      The President of the Syracuse Visitors and Convention Bureau, David Holder says he is encouraged by the findings. "Continued growth in tourism to Onondaga County shows the significant impact of our recent product changes, including Destiny USA and the revitalization of downtown Syracuse."

      Holder says if it weren't for tax revenue generated by tourism, the average household in Onondaga County would have to pay an additional $565 in annual taxes.

      One of the biggest draws to Onondaga County is the recently expanded Destiny USA. Destiny Executive David Aitken says the facility is attracting people from thoughout New York State, surrounding states as well as Canada.

      In 2000, community leaders were stunned by a study that showed the former Carousel Mall was becoming a tourist attraction. That study eventually led to the decision to expand Carousel and create Destiny USA. "It's a great indication that everyone's hard work is paying dividends." Aitken said.

      Holder says many native central New Yorkers do not see this area as a tourist attraction. "Our area is blessed with great outdoors, incredible arts and cultural scene, great dining, just a fabulous vibe to the downtown area. We take that for granted as locals. Our visitors come here and it blows them away."