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'Today' show afterglow

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'Today' show afterglow
'Today' show afterglow

The "Today" show visit in July was heralded as a potential boon for the area's sluggish tourism industry, and some say it didn't disappoint.

A month after hosts Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry broadcast live from The Sagamore, bookings at the Bolton Landing resort have surged.

The resort gained 1,100 room sales in August from the exposure, which it tracked based on customer interviews and a promotion based on the morning show's visit.

Marketing and Sales Director Kevin Rosa said occupancy for August with a week remaining had already surpassed the full-month numbers during 2008 and 2007. On Tuesday alone, the resort booked another 74 nights for this week.

If the calls keep coming in, this month could top the August 2006 and 2005 totals, which were "huge years," Rosa said.

For the fall, Rosa said reservations are up, though not as dramatically.

"We definitely saw the needle move in August," he said.

Another business featured during the show's July broadcast, Martha's Dandee Creme in Queensbury, said August has been a great month for ice cream.

Owner Dennis Lafontaine said many customers have mentioned "Today" as the reason for their visit, including one family that canceled plans to visit Cape Cod in favor of Lake George after seeing the show.

"It's definitely helped the area, and it's helped our business," Lafontaine said.

Warren County Tourism Director Kate Johnson said the appearance has become a talking point for the area that will continue to pay dividends next summer.

According to Johnson, the county's tourism Web site had a record number of page views the day the show aired - 6,000 visits as compared with the average 1,000 daily views.

Over the past month, the tourism office has received several hundred inquiries directly related to "Today." And Johnson said that even if the show didn't prompt the call, it often worked its way into the conversation.

"It became common dialogue," Johnson said. "They may have seen an ad somewhere, but the show made them more interested."

Luisa Craige-Sherman, executive director of the Lake George Chamber of Commerce, said her office also received many show-related inquiries, including one from an out-of-state entrepreneur who was considering expanding his tourism-related business into the Lake George area.

In addition, Craige-Sherman said she has noticed more traffic along Route 9 and more tourists in the area in August.

She said the "Today" show has definitely helped increase crowds, but that other factors are at work, including the warmer weather this month and the Saratoga Race Course, which draws thousands of visitors to the region and has seen an increase in attendance this year.

"I think we can say between the 'Today' show and Mother Nature with some good hot weather and some nice sun, we have seen an increase in activity in our office," she said.


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