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Sun., Oct. 4
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Jefferson County to conduct airport market study


WATERTOWN — Where do they come from and where do they go?

That’s what Jefferson County hopes to determine.

The Jefferson County Board of Legislators General Services Committee has voted to endorse a $25,000 “True Market Study” to measure passenger activity at Watertown International Airport in an effort to better market the facility to customers.

Grant W. Sussey, the recently appointed airport manager, who previously served as director of aviation at the Orange County Airport, said studies of this type are typical at small regional airports.

According to Mr. Sussey, the study will use large data repositories maintained by national airlines where they keep ticket purchases and other proprietary information.

The information will give county administrators an idea of just how big the airport’s market share actually is, as well as provide information about which airports passengers use most frequently and why they drive to those locations, Mr. Sussey said.

Sixel Consulting, a Eugene, Ore., firm with several regional offices including one in Rochester, will conduct the study, according to the resolution last week authorizing the requisition.

The money for the study will come from the county’s occupancy tax fund, which comes from a tax on visitors who stay in Jefferson County hotel, motel and bed-and-breakfast rooms. By law, the money must be spent on tourism promotion.

A hotel building boom in recent years has led to a large cash reserve in the fund. In late 2012, county legislators, including General Services Committee Chairman Philip N. Reed, R-Fishers Landing, began agitating for more money to be spent from the fund as an investment in the area’s attractions.

The money for the study was earmarked last April as part of a $50,000 spending package to market the airport to Canadian business and leisure air travelers in Eastern Ontario and the border region.

“We can see everybody within two hours, where they’ve gone to and what they’ve paid,” Mr. Reed said. “Most airports at our level use these types of studies for planning and to be competitive.”

The county expects the study to be completed in 60 days, according to Jefferson County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III. The resolution to conduct the study still must be approved by the full Board of Legislators during its May 6 meeting.

A call requesting comment from Sixel Consulting was not returned Tuesday afternoon.

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