Board opts out of ‘I Love NY’ tourism program

Events and tourist attractions will still get some advertising despite Montgomery County’s decision

Events and tourist attractions will still get some advertising despite Montgomery County’s decision to opt out of the state’s “I Love NY” matching funds program.

The county Board of Supervisors last week agreed to decline matching fund money offered by the state for lack of adequate funding and other ideas on how to spend it.

The move makes Montgomery County the second in the state not participating in the program, which ties local tourism to the state’s “I Love NY” tourism brand.

Yates County has not participated in the program for several years, according to Empire State Development.

In an effort to save money, the county last year withdrew the tourism promotion administration from the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce in favor of administering “in house” at the economic development and planning department.

That saved a $50,000 administrative fee paid to the chamber for the work.

To participate this year, it would cost the county roughly $50,000 to get that same amount matched from the state — but using that money comes with restrictions that wouldn’t allow the county to direct funding in several specific ways.

The state funding won’t pay for promotion within the county, and the bulk of the county’s current program does just that, according to county economic development specialist Crystal Ricciuti.

Officials are paying for tourism promotion using occupancy tax revenues, a four percent levy added to bills at lodging facilities. Roughly $67,000 of that is available, Ricciuti said.

The county program is directing $8,200 of its tourism money towards repairs and upgrades on the Canalway Trail bike path, and another $35,000 on promotion brochures and advertisement in and outside the county including a website and Internet message distribution.

Another $12,000 of the bed tax money is being spent on salary to compensate the Economic Development Department for administering the program, and $10,000 is being distributed to local attractions and event organizers through the county’s tourism grant program.

The bulk of tourists come to Montgomery County for historical sites and many of these guests are from the Capital Region as it is, Ricciuti said.

Ricciuti said it would be beneficial to build up some reserve funding as well, so depleting all the available money to participate in the state program didn’t make sense.

In better days, the county’s tourism program in conjunction with the state matching funds has cost as much as $160,000.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Thomas Quackenbush said the change could be temporary depending on the county’s financial situation in the future.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to try to do it again,” Quackenbush said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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