Upstate tourism industry welcomes promotional funding in proposed state budget

Jan 28, 2013

Tourism professionals in upstate New York are applauding Gov. Andrews Cuomo’s commitment to the region. In order to augment upstate economic growth, the governor has set aside $7 million in the budget for promotion and marketing initiatives.

Don Jeffries, President and CEO of VisitRochester says tourism is the second largest industry in the state, and it’s exciting that the governor views the potential of the upstate region seriously.

“New York is not just New York City, it’s upstate New York. I think simply getting the word out on tourism through the Governor’s funding will help the upstate economy and it will create jobs,” Jeffries said.

Five million dollars has been tagged for competitive funding to support tourism marketing plans that demonstrate regional collaboration.

The additional $2 million will go to implementing the Taste New York initiative – the promotion of locally grown produce through a network of themed duty-free stores across the state.

General manager of the New York Wine and Culinary Center, Thomas Belelieu, says the duty-free stores could do wonders for local producers.

“There’s more focus, more love, more tender loving care behind the products, and therefore they’re more expensive. If that would be duty free or tax free, that would be more affordable for people to actually purchase it. It would be incredible help to any grower in the state,” said Belelieu.

New York had an estimated 3.7 million tourists who came specifically for the state’s agriculture last year.

Belelieu says a larger budget for the promotion of upstate and its products would have been better, but this is definitely a good start.

VisitRochester’s Don Jeffries says the fact that money was set aside in the budget sent a clear message to tourism professionals upstate.

“The message was loud and clear to us in the tourism industry that the governor really gets it, because he did put $7 million aside. And I like the way he did it because it’s based on competitive bidding, it’s not just a hand out.”

Cuomo has highlighted a marketing plan for upstate New York as a key step in growing the region’s economy and job market.