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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"An abundance of tourism, thankfully"
ALBANY, July 28 -- Now that we’ve reached roughly the halfway point of summer, it’s a good time to turn our attention to one of the year’s most important measuring sticks: how’s the tourism industry doing?
A recent report from Tourism Economics (www.tourismeconomics.com) pegged the economic value of tourism across counties encompassing the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions at $2.8 billion in revenue and accounting for nearly 58,000 jobs. That remains pretty impressive.
Governor Andrew Cuomo was quick to take note of the Tourism Economics study and, I might add, rightly so: “From the Adirondacks to the wine trails of the Finger Lakes to the world-class beaches of Long Island," he said, "New York has some of the most beautiful tourist destinations in every corner of the state, and we are committed to attracting travelers from all around the world to enjoy them. Our efforts to do so are clearly paying off with a recent report by Tourism Economics showing that…our focus on growing the tourism industry is working and we are poised for further growth in every single region of the state. As the fifth largest employer in New York State, the tourism industry plays a vital role in our state’s economy. That is why we are investing the highest level of tourism funding in decades this year…Our message is simple: come visit the Empire State.”
It goes without saying that we’re fortunate here at home to hang our collective hat on tourism as a cultural and economic anchor. From the Corning Glass Museum to Watkins Glen International, and from cheese making to a world-class wine industry, tourism is big business around here – and we’re lucky for it. We’re wise to take every opportunity to invest in it -- as the governor noted above, this year’s state budget advanced a strong commitment to the tourism industry – and we can never do enough to promote it. Thankfully, the opportunities are abundant.
Not long ago, for example, we enjoyed one of New York’s premier wine industry events, the Finger Lakes Wine Festival. Most of us are well aware of wine country and the wine trails of the Finger Lakes (http://www.fingerlakeswinesociety.com/trails/index.html, or http://www.fingerlakes.com/wine).
Now we also can boast of the ever-growing Finger Lakes Beer Trail, which helps to show off our vibrant craft beer industry (www.fingerlakesbeertrail.com), another industry that’s been getting some important attention from New York government.
And don’t forget our local cheeses, so many of which were on display this past weekend at the 2nd Annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival at Sunset View Creamery (www.sunsetviewcreamery.com), a Farmstead & Artisan Cheese Production Facility that’s operated at Hoffmans' Dairy, a century farm located outside Odessa, New York, just south of Watkins Glen. Cheese making has long played an important role in so many upstate New York communities, including Schuyler County. The great news is that it’s still going strong and has an exciting and promising future. For more information on local cheese makers, including upcoming events, visit the Finger Lake Cheese Trail online at http://flcheesetrail.com/.
Earlier this year, in April, I was proud to note that Finger Lakes Distilling, a farm distillery in Burdett, was selected as one of 24 New York State distilleries that participated in the prestigious Manhattan Cocktail Classic in New York City. It was a great opportunity for Finger Lakes Distilling (http://fingerlakesdistilling.com/) to showcase the excellence of its handmade spirits, and a true testament to the quality of its craft and its commitment to locally grown fruits and grains. We were proud that Finger Lakes Distilling carried the banner for our region at such a top-flight gathering of cocktail enthusiasts. It helped reinforce the proud reputation of the Finger Lakes as a cornerstone of New York’s agriculture, tourism and hospitality industries.
Of course, so many of our locally grown and locally made products can always be found at one of the region’s many farmers’ markets. For more information, visit www.ilovethefingerlakes.com/basics/agriculture-farmersmarkets.htm or the following state Department of Agriculture and Markets website: http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/FandMSearch.html
Finally -- but by no means least of all -- we've long been defined by unparalleled natural and scenic beauty, including an amazing network of parks and trails (http://www.fingerlakes.org/things-to-do/nature-parks). A little lesser known but no less impressive are the numerous waterfalls dotting the Finger Lakes landscape, many of which are located in state parks. It makes for a memorable outing, and now you can check out a comprehensive listing of Finger Lakes Waterfalls here: http://www.fingerlakes.com/parks/waterfalls.
In other words, we offer an abundance of tourism opportunities, during every season of the year, and you can read all about them through the state’s official tourism website, www.iloveny.com, or www.fingerlakes.com.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869