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Yes, Tourism and Shale Gas Really Do Go Together

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Contrary to the hyperbole of fractivists, tourism and shale gas development are not only compatible but complementary; it takes an economy to draw tourism.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of participating electronically in a program conducted in the UK to discuss the potential impacts of shale gas development on tourism in the Lancashire region. The connection was poor, so I offered to do a follow-up video of my own capturing the essence of my remarks for sharing with those who attended.

The thrust of my presentation to the UK folks was simply this; one cannot have a flourishing tourism industry without an economy to support it. Tourism, by its nature, is typically seasonal and key elements of the tourism infrastructure such as hotels and restaurants need to pay bills in the off-season, which means having a core economy that can carry the load during this period until the good times roll again. I live in the Poconos section of Pennsylvania and I can’t tell how glad the owners of our favorite restaurants are to see us in February and March when visiting New Yorkers are few and far between. They survive on our business in the winter and are only there for the tourists in the summer because we helped get them there.

The reverse is also true, of course, but the point is that tourism can only truly develop to its full potential when there is other economic activity as well. This is why tourism and shale go together. The data proves it and I shared some of the most salient facts in this video presentation, which speaks for itself:

Energy In Depth has also gathered together some very compelling must-read data on tourism and shale, including this infographic as well as additional data on California and Florida here.

tourism and shale

Click graphic to get full size version.

Notice, for example, that North Dakota, the state left for dead a few years earlier, led the increase in tourism growth in 2013 as fracking in the Bakken made it one the biggest success stories of the 21st century to date. Not only that, but the Marcellus Shale counties of Southwestern Pennsylvania, traditionally known better as part of the Rust Belt, had the 2nd largest increase in traveler spending in the Commonwealth from 2013-2014. Finally, the Texas tourism industry contributed over $32 billion to the state’s GDP in 2015; this being second only to the oil and gas industry.

Yes, tourism and shale go together quite nicely indeed as this graphic from one of our previous posts on the subject demonstrates:

tourism and shale

Note: New 2014 travel data for Bradford County now shows tourism spending has now increased 67% between 2009 and 2014.

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5 thoughts on “Yes, Tourism and Shale Gas Really Do Go Together

  1. https://twitter.com/MarkRuffalo/status/882382839681097728

    There is a fun quote from fractivist celebrity leader Mark Ruffalo–something about how “American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact”. The irony is rich considering antifractivism consists largely of deliberate perversion of truth and fact.

    One wonders if the press is ever going to wake up?

  2. Well—it isn’t too difficult to connect the dots between the antifracking pipeline resistance movement, a natural gas pipeline, Bill Mckibben and a church that is now opposed to all new infrackstructure! Interesting times.



    Let us proclaim truth in the public square
    We are now living in a John 18:37 moment, in which we must hold to the truth we understand from our
    two Testaments and from the sacred book of nature, recognizing that when truth is compromised, only
    power prevails.
    • Let our communities of faith be bold and courageous as we address one of the greatest moral
    challenge that the world has ever faced.
    • Let us commit to resist all expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and demand new sources of
    renewable energy that are accessible to all communities.
    • Let us do all we can to change America’s understanding of the story that our generation is
    writing. Let us begin a new story – a story that is not dependent on fossil fuel or on wealth for
    the few and misery for the many.

  3. I just want to add a word of caution in the interpretation of increased tourism spending: Is the spending really from true tourists or from business travelers related to the oil and gas industry and/or tourists that are employed by the local oil and gas industry? Maybe the details of the spending do not matter; but the implications of the analysis do matter, since I can see no reason why an increase in oil and gas activity in an area would spur tourism on its own. Is revenue from the oil and gas industry being utilized to promote tourism? The implication of the analysis leads one to wonder what happens when the oil and gas industry declines? Will tourism then decline too?

    • It’s some of both as I see it. But, my point is that can’t get a good hotel or restaurant to attract tourists in many rural areas until you the gas drilling to support them. The industries are mutually reinforcing. Communities such as tiny Tunkhannock, PA now have nice hotels and restaurants that didn’t exist before drilling. That infrastructure also supports more tourism.

      • Well said Tom. It’s not one or the other. Initial capital investments in these infrastructures are required, and tourism on its own rarely kick starts that investment. Thanks to natural gas exploration and development a demand for these basic infrastructures of hotels and restaurants was create where none existed before and, in effect, lowered the entry cost for the tourism related activity.

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