With interest in outdoor recreation on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic, state tourism officials last year launched a “Leave No Trace” campaign to remind visitors not to sully the state's natural resources. This year, they added a new message — “Don't Take New Hampshire for Granite” — to encourage visitors to be understanding about rules and respectful of other people and property.
Now, with foliage season just beginning, officials are again reminding visitors to show courtesy to workers and the environment alike.
“We need to protect the natural resources that you're using for future generations, but also because it is literally the lifeblood for our tourism industry,” said Taylor Caswell, commissioner of the Department of Business and Economic Development.
►Fall foliage forecast: The best times for leaf peeping this year
►Leave No Trace: How to protect crowded national parks and other natural spaces
Fall is New Hampshire's second-busiest tourism season, behind summer, and state officials expect 3.2 million visitors to spend $1.4 billion this year. That's close to the nearly $1.5 billion tourists dropped in 2018 and 2019, and a significant rebound from last year, when fall tourism spending was $1.2 billion.
While the state's hospitality industry came roaring back this summer, businesses still are struggling with workforce shortages and supply chain delays, said Mike Somers, president of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association. That, in turn, has led to an increase in rude and abusive customer behavior.
“We're really asking folks to plan ahead and have a little bit of patience and understanding,” he said. “Just call ahead, find out what the hours of operation are, and please don't get upset if we're not open until 11 o'clock at night.”
The workforce and supply chain problems experienced by the hospitality industry also are seen across business sectors, said Caswell, who highlighted his agency's recent efforts to take a more regional approach to attracting businesses and recruiting and training workers. Two regional organizations have been set up, and two more are planned later this year.
Darren Winham, director of economic development for the town of Exeter, said sharing ideas with his peers in other communities has been invaluable. In some cases, if one town can't accommodate a business looking to move in or expand, it will refer it to a more suitable location, he said.
“Rising tides lift all boats. If something good happens in Hampton, it's good for Exeter,” he said. “When we're working together, we're more effective. We can serve our businesses and communities better, we can serve New Hampshire better, and frankly, it's a lot more fun.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New Hampshire welcomes leaf peepers but wants bad tempers to stay home