September 3, 2011
By LISA RATHKE Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. — The flood damage in New England is all but certain to hurt Vermont’s vital leaf-peeping season, when thousands of tourists come to see the autumn colors, pick apples, visit craft fairs and, at the end of the day, go to sleep under a down comforter at a historic inn.
Some inns have closed because of damage to roads or rooms from the rainy remnants of Hurricane Irene. A few harvest festivals scheduled for mid-September have been called off.
And resorts are receiving cancellations from would-be guests who are afraid — rightly or wrongly — that yuh can’t there from heah, as they say in New England.
“Obviously the storm is going to scare some folks away,” said Chris Danforth, director of sales and marketing at the Killington resort.
Despite the crumbled roads and washed-out bridges, Vermont tourism officials are trying mightily to get the word out that the state is open for business and should be OK for the fall foliage season, which brings in more than $300 million in business for the state each year.
“If you want to show us a little love and kindness, spend your tourist dollars in Vermont. Huge parts of Vermont our entirely unaffected,” Gov. Peter Shumlin said Friday.
How much of an effect the damage will have on ski season, which generally starts anywhere between late October and early December, is unclear.
Major ski resorts said they don’t believe they will have any problems, but state officials are not ready to say when the roads might be fixed.
In New Hampshire, where fall tourism brings in an estimated $1 billion, the Notchland Inn in Hart’s Location in the White Mountains was left stranded when rising waters washed away the main road through town.
In the Adirondack Mountains of New York, authorities have closed all trails to some the state’s highest and most popular summits. It is not clear when the trails will reopen. But when they do, hikers will see some significant changes.