Tourism isn’t dead, it just looks a lot different.
The promotional agency for Schenectady County has launched an effort to make this point, and to assure visitors that local attractions are safe.
The #SchenectadyStrong campaign is lining up merchants, restaurants and other attractions to sign a pledge affirming they follow the highest standards of hygiene in the COVID-19 era.
The virus is largely contained in New York state after five and a half months, but it remains a great concern, and surveys have found that a destination’s ability and willingness to limit risk of infection are a factor for up to 75 percent of travelers as they decide where to go.
“What we’ve seen through these times and what we’ve heard in webinars is that people are really trying to make sure that the communities that they’re going to … are providing a safe environment,” said Angela Kelly, interim executive director of Discover Schenectady.
Long-distance vacations are difficult or even impossible as the pandemic continues at a high level in some other states and countries, and as travel restrictions remain in place.
But much of New York is back in business, albeit at a reduced capacity and with restrictions.
In Schenectady County, while Rivers Casino and Proctors remain closed, historic sites, outdoor attractions and the Ale Trail are open, as are miSci and VIA Aquarium.
“They’re open. It’s something that you can do and make a day of it,” Kelly said.
“On the back end, we’re gearing up … so we’re ready to go when all the businesses are open again,” she added.
The business world and those promoting it have needed to pivot frequently or even daily during the pandemic as the situation evolves and state directives change, Kelly said. Something like #SchenectadyStrong isn’t dependent on those daily details — it’s a larger-picture pledge to do whatever needs to be done on a given day to make the premises safe for visitors. It also asks customers to do their part, with social distancing, sanitized hands and face coverings.
Response was good in the planning stages, Kelly said, and by midday Friday, 24 hours after #SchenectadyStrong launched, 22 merchants had made the Schenectady Strong Pledge.