The days are shorter, the air is cooler and the kids are back in school — but this is still tourist season on Martha’s Vineyard, where fall is second only to summer as the Island’s busiest time. “It’s extremely important to our overall economy. We’ve seen a real growth and expansion in visitors coming to the Vineyard though the autumn,” said Nancy Gardella, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce.

After Labor Day, Ms. Gardella said, “we go from a very family-focused summer traveler to much more adult-oriented fall travelers,” who arrive on Island throughout the fall.

This time of year also brings many international travelers, including “Canadians, folks from the U.K. and Ireland (and) folks from Western European countries,” Ms. Gardella said.

While tourist activity continues to peak on weekends, hundreds of day trippers are arriving aboard tour buses every day of the week.

Buses are full of fall tourists. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Booking data from the Steamship Authority show the boat line carrying up to 500 passengers a day aboard buses in October. September’s tour-bus bookings ranged from 250 to 550 passengers a day.

The SSA was unable to provide recent numbers for passenger-only groups, but Ms. Gardella said many bus lines with regional tours will send their passengers to the Vineyard on foot while the coaches remain on the mainland.

“Any day, Monday through Thursday, if you happen to be in Woods Hole you’ll see all the tour buses lined up,” she said. “They have dropped their passengers off and are waiting for them. There are lines of buses.”

And the SSA isn’t the only boat line carrying tour groups across Vineyard Sound.

“There’s also the Island Queen, the Hy-Line, the Seastreak — they’re all carrying people from group tours,” Ms. Gardella said.

Not all the group passengers are day trippers. Some may stay overnight as part of an excursion like Tauck Tours’ Cape Cod, the Islands and Nantucket guided tour (from $3,990), which includes two nights at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown.

Fall weddings also bring loads of Island visitors who shop and dine while they’re here, said Erin Ready of the Edgartown Board of Trade.

“The wedding industry is really strong, and that affects most of our members — hospitality, shopping, restaurants,” Ms. Ready said.

The Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival, now in its 12th year, was established to help draw more visitors to Edgartown in the autumn. It appears to be working. “We keep moving the date back, because October is so busy already,” Ms. Ready said.

This year’s food and wine festival takes place Oct. 23 through Oct. 27. More than a dozen of the tastings and dinners on the schedule have already sold out.

Oak Bluffs is also drawing record crowds to its fall festivals including Tivoli Day and the craft beer festival in Waban Park, said Dennis da Rosa, president of the Oak Bluffs Association.

Sarah York, president of the Tisbury Business Association and manager of the C.B. Stark jewelry shop on Main street, said that up until this week’s storm, the autumn weather has attracted plenty of visitors.

“When we have a nice fall weather-wise, it really helps that fall shoulder season business,” Ms. York said.

“This weekend is unfortunate, but it’s not the first Columbus Day weekend when we’ve had this,” she said as a three-day northeaster raged outside Thursday with wind and rain.

Still, Ms. York added, the Vineyard has about 18,000 residents who need goods and services year-round.

“They’re still shopping,” she said.

When the seasonal ferry lines end their services after Columbus Day, Ms. Gardella said the Vineyard’s autumn audience will change again.

“What we see is more and more fall into early winter travelers who are coming from a drive market— anywhere in the Northeast, particularly metropolitan Boston, central Connecticut in the greater Hartford area, and New York — people who are looking for that little weekend getaway,” she said.

The Vineyard is an appealing fall destination for many reasons, Ms. Gardella said, from popular festivals like this weekend’s Art of Chocolate at Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs to the Island’s natural beauty and relatively mild climate.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen snow before January,” Ms. Gardella said. “I think that’s a factor. They can be hiking, they can be biking — they may not be in the water, but they’re around the water.”

Although the chamber of commerce does not have recent figures on Island tourism, Ms. Gardella said she expects to receive last year’s Dukes County data from the state before long.

“We just got the statewide numbers for 2018, and tourism-generated revenue was up almost seven per cent,” she said. “We’re waiting on the county numbers now.”