6. Seasonal Population Estimates
Located in the heart of the White Mountains region, Conway is one of the most desirable and traveled tourist destinations in the state. As such, the area is subject to a significant influx of visitors attracted by a variety of outdoor activities, tourist attractions and shopping opportunities. Some of these visitors reside in seasonal housing units located in Conway, while other tourists seek accommodations in a wide range of motels and similar lodging facilities in the Mount Washington Valley region. Whatever type of temporary lodging used by visitors and tourists, the Town of Conway must provide municipal facilities and services (e.g. sewer, water, roadways, police, fire, etc.) for a population greater than just the number of permanent residents identified by the U.S. Census. Although many of these visitors may only be staying in Conway for a short period of time, most municipal facilities have to be constructed and maintained on a year-round basis.
Since the use of seasonal dwelling units occurs in somewhat unpredictable patterns, it is difficult to estimate, with any certainty, the number of people that should be added to Conway’s year-round population as a result of the occupancy of these types of units. However, the Institute for New Hampshire Studies’ latest estimates indicate that the average travel party size visiting the state was 2.7 persons (Spring 2000). Therefore, based on a conservative estimate of three persons per seasonal unit suggests that if all of Conway’s seasonal units (estimated at 1,797 dwelling units) were occupied simultaneously, the town’s population would increase by approximately 5,400 people.
In addition to seasonal housing units, many tourists stay in rooms at local resorts, motels, hotels and bed and breakfast establishments. According to the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau, the entire Mount Washington region contains approximately 7,000 beds within lodging facilities. Conservatively assuming that each lodging room contains two beds, this translates into approximately 3,500 rooms within the region. This value is in-line with the 1991 estimate of 2,800 rooms identified in a study prepared by RKG Associates, Inc. in the same year for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. Under the conservative assumptions that half of the lodging rooms in the Mount Washington Valley are in Conway (3,500 rooms total) and each room contains the average travel party of three persons, it is estimated that Conway’s population could increase an additional 10,500 individuals during a peak travel period with full room occupancy. Therefore, factoring in the 5,400 occupants of seasonal dwelling units added to the 10,500 individuals staying in lodging facilities, it is estimated that Conway’s population could conceivably increase to 24,500 during peak tourism periods. This represents an increase of about 185% over the residential population of Conway identified by the U.S. Census Bureau for the year 2000.