QUEENSBURY — Warren County needs to collectively market the tourism attractions in its communities instead of relying on a fragmented approach, according to a new tourism study released Monday.
Lake George is the tourism “hub” of the region, but there are plenty of other areas and attractions that can bring in visitors, said Deborah Garry, owner of BBG & G Advertising & Public Relations, which was hired to study the county’s tourism marketing.
She said the county and its communities should improve their event and attraction offerings in the “shoulder” seasons outside the summer, focusing on sectors like the outdoors, historical and culinary offerings, and the appeal of the different seasons.
“You need an overall brand, marketing the entire county as a destination,” Garry told those who gathered to hear her presentation. “You have to start thinking as a county.”
Garry’s report was the focus of a three-hour presentation Monday hosted by the Warren County Board of Supervisors Tourism Committee, attended by many of the operators of the county’s biggest hotels and outlet centers.
The report, done between May and October, included surveys of visitors, lodgers, business owners and data analysis, among other aspects.
Among the recommendations:
- Try to appeal to younger visitors from the “millenial” generation.
- Create more visitor “packages” with itineraries, replacing the current emphasis on geographical townships. The packages could focus on agri-tourism, fishing, golf or hiking, among other themes.
- Consolidate promotional materials, saving money to use for more countywide promotion.
- Push for creation of more events that will draw visitors to the area.
“The key is to get new people to come here,” said Lake George Mayor Robert Blais. “Once you get them here, believe me, they come back.”
- Create a tourism “advisory board.”
- Have the Tourism Department guide event promotional funding.
Warren County’s lodging rates have not grown in recent years, while those in other tourism communities with whom the county competes have, Garry reported. Warren County’s summer peak lodging rates rose more than 6 percent over the last five years, however.
Garry warned that “overdeveloping” of hotel rooms is a concern.
Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino, chairman of the county Tourism and Occupancy Tax Coordination Committee, said he believes the county Tourism Department needs to add an “events coordinator.”
Suggestions as to how to spend occupancy tax receipts annoyed some supervisors.
Developer Dave Kenny, who owns a number of hotels and outlet centers, was concerned that supervisors wouldn’t give Garry’s report its due but would “turn around and say we know better.”
Merlino said the Tourism Committee will discuss how to put the report’s recommendations in motion, perhaps adding members of the private sector to the Board of Supervisors committees for input.
Garry’s firm was paid $27,600 for the study through the county’s occupancy tax funds.