It was something of an unusual sight this weekend: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo riding a snowmobile. During the Adirondack Winter Challenge in Lake Placid, he announced several initiatives to enhance the North Country economy.
The Adirondack Winter Challenge brings legislators from Albany and beyond to the mountains to compete in sports such as snowmobiling, bobsledding, snowshoeing, curling and skiing. Governor Cuomo took the opportunity to highlight the importance of tourism in the Adirondacks. “For many years, frankly, upstate New York did not get the kind of attention and help it needed from the state government. We did change our priorities and we did change our perspective. We remembered that we’re one state. When upstate does well it’s good for downstate and when downstate does well it’s good for upstate. Over the past four years we have had record efforts and economic development in upstate New York. We’ve made investments that the state has never made before. It’s such a joy to see those investments reaping dividends.”
Calling tourism one of the great economic engines of the region, the governor announced three initiatives to enhance the region’s exposure. A “Ski NY Spring Break” will occur from March 13th to the 31st. In conjunction with Ski Areas of New York there will be discounted skiing and learn to ski promotions through the I Love NY program.
The governor is also expanding the tourism marketing budget for the region, slotting $25 million for the I Love NY marketing campaign in his 2015-16 budget. About 20 percent of the funds are allocated to promote the Adirondack region.
Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism President Jim McKenna says the money is needed. “Governor Cuomo has recognized tourism as an economic tool from the beginning of his administration. What the I Love NY program does, because it’s got some more marketing power and dollars behind it, it can reach larger markets. That really has a great positive impact on the Adirondacks. A lot of us, we do a fair amount of marketing for the Adirondacks. But when you’re I Love NY you can do larger campaigns, really reaching out further than the close-in metro markets that we work with and that certainly has impact.”
The third initiative will attempt to draw Canadian shoppers to New York stores. Nearly 200 stores will participate in I Shop NY between March 22nd and April 6th.
Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Marketing Kristy Kennedy has been working with I Love NY and the Retail Council of NY on the I Shop NY initiative. “The great thing about this promotion is yes they are saying come to New York State and shop. We have great retailers and frequent them and go explore. But the other nice thing is there’s always that secondary factor. Once they’re here they’re going to explore. They’re going to need to go out to eat. They’re going to want to find something else to do at night with children and families and things like that. So not only does it benefit our retail sector and industry but it’s also a great way to showcase everything New York State has to offer.”
Audio of the governor is courtesy of his press office.
New tourism marketing campaigns will soon begin through the Market NY Program, which is funded by the Regional Economic Development Council. The Adirondack and Thousand Islands area was awarded just over $1 million to promote the North Country region.