By Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)
Our region is rich in natural streams, forests and waterways that lend themselves to perfect conditions for a number of outdoor sports including snowmobiling, fishing and hunting. Year round, our state enables outdoor enthusiasts a different opportunity. I’ve always believed we should do a better job as a state capitalizing on the potential recreation and tourism dollars that could be generated if we marketed ourselves as a region the right way. A successful marketing campaign would help assist the existing businesses and serve to bolster some of their annual revenues by drawing more people to our region that have the money to spend on lodging, food, fuel and licenses to hunt, fish or snowmobile, or who just enjoy the wildlife.
Our state did a great job in the 1980s with the I Love NY marketing campaign. That bright red and black logo touted New York’s strong suits and motivated people to visit our great state. Albeit New York City realized most of the benefits of that advertising campaign, it didn’t hurt Upstate by any means. Based on success we’ve had in the past with this type of outreach, our state should work to incorporate an “I Love NY Outdoors” in our marketing repertoire, which would directly benefit the Upstate New York region. Earlier this month, I reintroduced the bill (A4178) that would require the commissioner of economic development to develop a marketing strategy that would promote New York as a premiere destination for hunting and fishing entitled “I Love NY Outdoors.”
The hunting and fishing industry alone spends billions annually in the state. Currently, there is no program in place that serves to promote the hunting and fishing industry, despite its proven ability to draw in dollars for the state and the local economy. It only makes sense to broaden this reach. Local governments would also realize an increase in sales tax generated from dollars spent by visiting hunters and fishermen.
Another bill I reintroduced this session (A4231) would amend the vehicle and traffic law to allow businesses to sell snowmobile licenses. Currently, retailers that sell fishing poles and gear, for example, are allowed to sell fishing licenses. The same, however, does not apply to businesses that cater to snowmobilers. We’re missing out on a potential market here because of the way the law is written. In Oswego County alone, it is estimated that snowmobiling generates $27 million in revenue for the local economy. Much of this revenue comes from out-of-state snowmobile enthusiasts, who are supposed to have a license to ride on our trails. If more businesses were allowed to sell licenses, the number of snowmobilers would, presumably, increase. This would also serve to increase the dollars infused in our local economy. Snowmobiling seems to be on the rise too. According to an article published in the Post Standard recently, registrations are up from about 14,320 to 15,408 just in one year—from 2007-08 to 2008-09 throughout Central New York, which includes Oswego, Onondaga, Cayuga and Madison counties.
It’s in these small ways that our state can turn its reputation around and become friendlier to those in the tourism industry and to the tourists themselves. I’m hopeful the new economic development program created under Gov. Cuomo serves our Upstate tourism industry and that dollars allocated for economic development can be used to promote our region’s strong suits.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185. You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.