Tourism Industry Looks to Heritage Trails, Livelier Airports

March 12, 2012 Updated: March 14, 2012
Epoch Times Photo
A double rainbow near Niagara Falls. Many tourists visit the Canadian side of the falls, but New York's Tourism Council hopes to keep tourists on the American side this summer. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK—Damage from tropical storms and a lack of snowfall hurt upstate tourism during the winter, but the summer sun may trigger a rebound. Stakeholders in the state’s tourism industry are hoping for a profitable summer to make up for the slow winter.

An initiative called “Path Through History” will help visitors discover sites and scenes such as Henry Hudson’s landing on the shore of the New World in 1609 and the launching of W.E.B. Du Bois’ African-American Civil Rights Movement in Buffalo in 1905. Tourists can follow a trail of new, uniform signs on roadways or take directed tours through the state’s heritage sites.

Bringing culture to the airports is also on the list of priorities for the state’s Tourism Council. JFK airport and LaGuardia are boring places, says Gail A. Grimmett, senior vice president of Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Epoch Times Photo
One of a few possible designs for signs to mark historic sites around the state. (Courtesy of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Office)

She is also working with the council to make airports a better place to introduce cultural events and venues to tourists.

“When you go to Vegas, you never really realize how long it takes to get your baggage,” says Grimmett, “because they have those great, huge plasma screens up in baggage claim that show snippets of every show you can see in Vegas.”

Currently, tourists—especially the large number of Japanese tourists—touch down at the Buffalo airport and go right to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls without spending any money in New York.

Making deals with local bus companies and making the airports more informative places for tourists could help redirect some of that traffic.

The state tourism council has only $5 million to spend on advertising this year, a small sum compared to many states, so the ad campaigns will be very focused.