Never have I wanted to look forward to a new year more than 2021! The tourism industry shut down in 2020. National and international borders closed. Quarantine orders kept us home, and businesses had to readjust to an entirely new selling structure in order to survive. We saw our restaurants, stores and entertainment businesses struggle, and many have yet to reopen. Never has the importance and impact of tourism as an economic driver been more evident than in this economic downturn. Changes in tourist spending can impact virtually every sector of the economy in one way or another, and when we lose the influx of tourism dollars, we lose the positive impact it has on our entire economy. According to the Department of Labor, almost four in 10 of all the U.S. jobs lost since last February were in the leisure and hospitality industry.
The tourism office’s mission is to increase awareness and inspire overnight travel to Cayuga County, which we've been unable to do during the pandemic. Without being able to inspire others to visit our region, we pivoted to supporting our businesses through local and regional campaigns that inspired takeout meals and curbside purchases. We promoted the virtual content of our attractions and worked diligently at keeping Cayuga County’s businesses top of mind through the “Our Cayuga” campaign. The “Our Cayuga” campaign highlighted the faces behind the places of our tourism industry.
We relaunched the Brave Women Winter campaign (bravewomenflx.com), where we partnered with Seneca County and Ontario County tourism offices. The focus of the campaign is to promote women-owned businesses and inspire people to get active to enjoy our amazing winter landscape through the Brave Women Winter 100K Virtual Challenge. We continued with Hibercation (hibercation.com), providing an escape from our daily routine and a retreat in some of our warm and welcoming hotels and B&Bs.
So what’s new in 2021?
While keeping a close eye on the trends and being cautious of everyone’s health, we look forward to things opening up little by little. Traveling confidently with our health in mind will continue to be the biggest decision factor when making plans. Cayuga County and the Finger Lakes region is perfectly positioned to offer an unforgettable vacation filled with peace of mind, relaxation, farm to table food, great wine and tons of places to explore. We will be highlighting the fresh open-air spaces to explore through our marketing messages. We will also be putting a special emphasis on Harriet Tubman and the equal rights history so vibrant in Cayuga County. Our tourism partners are planning special events throughout the year to honor her remarkable life. Advertisements and public relations efforts are already underway to call attention to Harriet Tubman and the equal rights movements in Cayuga County and the entire Finger Lakes region.
Also, keep an eye out for:
- The relaunch of the Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail and the special Original Treats.
- The launch of the water Blueway Trail in Cayuga Lake as part of the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway.
- Bird watching highlights including the birding trails and special events at the Sterling Nature Center.
- Ideas to enjoy the Erie Canal and Empire State Trail.
- Ways to explore our scenic drives and the Finger Lakes wine and beer trails.
- Spotlights on the many fishing experiences on Lake Ontario, Cayuga and Owasco lakes, and their many tributaries.
We are looking forward to another very busy year for tourism in Cayuga County. Stay tuned for more!
Karen Kuhl is executive director of the Cayuga County Office of Tourism and can be reached at email@example.com. The office is the designated tourism promotion agency for Cayuga County and promotes the county’s attractions, events and lodging establishments.