Cape Cod is experiencing its largest tourism boom since it was the U.S. territory’s own, thanks to a surge in people visiting from New England and New York.
In 2017, the state hosted more than 8.5 million visitors.
And as many as 10 million visitors are expected this year, according to a report released Wednesday by the state’s tourism bureau.
More: Cape Cod has become a favorite vacation destination for New Englanders, but not everyone is getting the benefits.
The state has the highest rate of visitors to the state in the nation, with an average of about 6,300 per month.
Cape Cod’s tourism boom has been fueled in part by the region’s reputation for good fishing and tourism.
A recent report from the Institute for Health and Tourism Research found that tourism is up 23% over the past decade.
While the report did not break down the state by industry, its finding that fishing and vacation tourism have doubled in the past five years.
“The fishing industry is very strong, and the tourism industry is also very strong,” said Mark A. Clements, executive director of the Tourism Development Corporation.
“We’ve seen that in our state.”
More: In the past few years, tourism has grown by 25% and hotel occupancy is up about 7% in the last year.
Tourism, which includes lodging, meals, and entertainment, is the most popular economic activity in the state.
But with the economy still recovering from the Great Recession, some are questioning whether New England has found the right formula for attracting the tourists.
A 2016 study from the U-M-Boston Center for Global Entrepreneurship found that New England’s tourism sector was struggling to attract new travelers to the region.
The study noted that while the region had seen some economic growth, it was still suffering from a “very poor” infrastructure and low employment.
New England was a tourism hotspot for many years, and now that’s starting to change, said Jeff Kowalczyk, who co-authored the study with his colleague.
More on the UMass Boston Center for Entrepreneurs.
“There’s no question that we need to do a better job of attracting people who are going to have some sort of job opportunity,” he said.
But the study also found that some of the growth has been concentrated in some of New Englands most remote communities.
While some of those communities are thriving, others are struggling.
Kowalsky pointed to a lack of affordable housing and the lack of high-paying jobs in some communities.
“It’s really hard to make people understand that there’s a place for you in New England,” he added.
For instance, the report found that about one-third of the population in Cape Henlopen, New Bedford, has a job, but the unemployment rate in the town of Cape Cod, which is the state capital, is 6.9%.
The region’s economy is also in dire straits, according a 2016 report from Harvard University.
That study found that unemployment in the Cape Cod region is at least 20% higher than the national average.
And the region has also experienced a sharp decline in its quality of life, the study found.
“Our economy is not strong enough to support these types of changes, which has been a real concern for our residents and businesses,” said Clements.
He added that some Cape Cod residents are now worried that the region could see an economic downturn as a result of the tourism boom.
“That’s the reality,” he continued.
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