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The Economic Opportunity of Wilderness Tourism – A New York Story

By Posted in - General News on February 22nd, 2017 tourism_development_nys

Promoting Economic Growth: Outdoor Tourism and New York’s Biggest City

As the owner of a New York City-based business serving a rather outdoorsy clientele, I have gained some interesting insights on two distinct parts of our region’s economy: the urban one, with its residents hungry to escape the confines of the city. And the rural one, situated close to the state’s wild areas and populated by countless entrepreneurial small business owners keen on capturing some of the city’s tourist dollars. From Harriman State Park and the Catskills, to the Adirondacks and Finger Lakes region, downtowns throughout New York benefit from the hundreds of thousands of tourists who travel from the city each year. In many ways, these tourists–and the revenue they generate–are the life-blood for towns around the state. And while reliance on tourist dollars can be anxiety-creating for a lot of businesses, it also presents an amazing opportunity. An opportunity that leverages New York City’s population and scale to generate visibility for the places, businesses and services that rely on outdoor tourism. To accomplish this, I am promoting the creation of a New York State Office of Outdoor Tourism in New York City.

Envisioned as equal parts tourism office and chamber of commerce, a New York State Office of Outdoor Tourism in New York City will be a physical location, serving as a hub for exploring New York’s wilder regions. Bringing together resources from the New York New Jersey Trail Conference, the I Love New York platform, the Department of Environmental Conservation as well as others, an Office of Outdoor Tourism in New York City would aggregate and disseminate information on how to explore New York’s backcountry. Staffed with knowledgeable folks from the outdoor industry, I see this office as a tool in which to help New Yorkers plan their next upstate outing. And while this office would serve as a resource for city dwellers, its benefits would extend well beyond the five boroughs.

Visibility is the lifeblood of small businesses. But, as anyone who has run a company knows, reaching customers is challenging and often expensive. Especially when attempting to reach customers beyond a local market–a real problem for New York State businesses that serve a New York City-based customer market. A New York State Office of Outdoor Tourism in New York City would provide this visibility. By listing businesses and services alongside their regions’ wilderness attractions, this office would provide tourists from the city with suggestions on how to round-out their upstate experience. From ideas on where to eat, sleep and shop, visitors to the Office of Outdoor Tourism will discover numerous ways to complement their wilderness adventure, while supporting small businesses at the same time.

While the concept of a New York State Office of Outdoor Tourism in New York City is in its infancy, it could very well provide a solution to two very real problems: one, streamlining tourists’ hunt for information on New York’s wilderness; and, two, growing economic opportunity for upstate businesses. Lofty goals, but achievable with the right strategy and deployment of resources. While I’ll be chatting folks from around the state on this topic in the coming months, I’d like to hear from you. What are your thoughts on a New York State Office of Outdoor Tourism in New York City? What would it need to provide to be valuable to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Reach me at: avi@traverseoutfitters.com.

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