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August 8, 2011

Bouncing back

As weather warms, so does summer tourist industry

The state of the economy, the price of gas and a strong Canadian dollar are all factoring into the economic health of the 2011 summer season in the region.

Many in the region's tourist industry are reporting that while June was a bit of a bust due to days and days of rain, the season has rebounded. Thanks to a string of good weather, July has been strong and August also looks promising, they said.

"July was excellent, but we're playing catchup because of a bad June," said businessman David Sheafer, who with his wife, Sandy, have run Salisbury Discount House at Salisbury Beach Center for decades.

"We're seeing a lot of families; this is a family destination. We're seeing people from the Merrimack Valley, but this year, we're seeing a lot of people from the Midwest, and upper state New York is very strong."

Sheafer said he's encountered about the same number of Canadian visitors as in previous years, even though their dollar can buy more here than back home.

Tom Saab of Saab Real Estate said the vacation house rental market was very strong throughout July and continues that way through mid-August, with some openings available the last half of August.

Saab said the Canadian market does make up a small portion of those who rent in Salisbury, but he sees most of the Canadian traffic at his Sands Hotel, located in Hampton, N.H. For decades, Canadians have vacationed in Hampton, and this year, Saab said he is seeing a few more than usual.

"At the Sands, we're filling up midweek, and I'm seeing more Canadian license plates," Saab said.

On Plum Island, rentals are also strong, according to Maureen Girouard of Port Properties.

"It's been a good year, and it started with reservations coming in earlier than usual," she said.

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