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Governor announces $4.5 million to boost winter tourism upstate

Governor Andrew Cuomo visited a newly expanded snowmobiler lounge in Lowville Monday to unveil a new ad campaign to promote winter tourism upstate. Cuomo says there’s new energy in the north country, thanks to increasing economic investment. He credits the efforts of both the region and his administration in making that happen.  

At the Ridgeview Inn, a few snowmobilers, bulky in their warm trail gear, mingle with state and local officials in suits and ties. Before the governor hits the trails himself, he tells the crowd that getting more people to come here for winter sports is just a matter of getting the word out.

“We have not exposed New York – even to New Yorkers. Let alone people around the country; let alone people around the globe,” he said. “They don’t know what we have in upstate New York, because we haven’t shown them. And part of what we’re doing today is just that.”

Posters show a snowmobiler sending a cloud of white powder over the New York City skyline. The slogans urge urbanites to venture north for relaxation and adventure.  

The $4.5 million ad campaign kicks off January 1, and specially targets New York City residents and tourists – with some ads to run on mass transit. The campaign will also reach out to other states and countries.

Like the plan to site casinos upstate, Cuomo says it’s part of a larger effort to use tourism to grow the upstate economy. “That’s what the ad campaigns are all about, that’s what the casino placements are all about – upstate New York resort destinations. To get that big tourism market to head north, think north,” he said.

Just a few weeks ago, the state Parks office gave snowmobilers access to 19 miles of trails connecting Lewis and Herkimer counties. And two snowmobile clubs have received funding from the North Country Regional Economic Development Council for new trail-grooming equipment. One prepared the trails ahead of the governor’s ride. 

Cuomo says all the tourism promotion efforts are paying off, with the number of visitors to the state, and the tax revenue they generate, up in 2013. “I believe when we talk about the upstate New York economy, north country, etc., tourism has done great things, and will continue to do more great things, if we develop it,” he said.

The governor’s appearance in Lowville Monday fit with his focus on upstate economic issues. He’s promoted tourism in the region in the warmer seasons by creating a whitewater rafting challenge for state officials in the Adirondacks, and taking part in a bass fishing tournament in the Thousand Islands.

State environmental officials planned an afternoon snowmobile ride to follow the news conference. The governor got suited up under a bright blue sky, the rare sunny day perfect for the photo op. 

Then he took off noisily, second in line behind a state police snowmobile.