Jan 5, 2018
In his 2018 State of the State address, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo emphasized the importance of tourism to the state's economy and the returns the state is seeing from its investment in the industry.
“The I Love New York campaign has revealed the secret that we have kept for too long," Governor Cuomo said in his speech. “The secret is the beauty and the history of our state. Since 2011, our $200 million tourism investment has seen tourism spending increase $18 billion. That's an investment my friends. … It's about jobs, jobs and jobs, and tourism means jobs in Upstate New York so let's do it because that's where we need the jobs."
New York State's tourism industry has set new records for total number of visitors, economic impact and direct spending in 2016, exceeding $100 billion for the third straight year and generating an economic impact of $104.8 billion. Additionally, visitors generated an all-time high $64.8 billion in direct spending. These figures each represent a nearly three percent increase over 2015, supported by the state's unprecedented investments in New York's booming tourism industry.
To further grow this pivotal industry and create jobs in Upstate New York, Governor Cuomo made several proposals, including:
Complete the New Expo Center to Continue the Transformation of the New York State Fairgrounds
As part of the Central New York Rising comprehensive strategy to revitalize communities and grow the economy, the state has invested $120 million over the past two years to upgrade and transform the historic New York State Fairgrounds, which had record-breaking attendance in each of the last two years, into a world-class, multi-use entertainment facility. As fair crowds increase, more activities are also being booked off-season.
This year, the State will complete a new 136,000-square-foot Expo Center announced last year by the governor. The new building will provide year-round economic growth to the region and be the largest exhibition facility north of New York City between Boston and Cleveland, attracting shows and special events that could not have come to the region previously because of a lack of suitable space.
Complete the Hudson River SkyWalk
Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. New York state parks, historic sites and campgrounds hosted 69.3 million estimated visitors in 2016, a 6 percent increase over 2015 and a 21 percent increase since the Governor took office in 2011.
As part of these efforts, Governor Cuomo has been a strong supporter of the Hudson River SkyWalk project, a 1.8-mile scenic pedestrian trail that crosses the Hudson River linking the Olana State Historic Site in the Town of Greenport to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in the Village of Catskill. In 2017, the state supported phase 2 of this project. As part of the third phase of the Hudson River SkyWalk project, the state will reconstruct the current intersection of Route 23 and Route 9G in Columbia County into a pedestrian and bicycle friendly roundabout with a direct connection to Olana State Historic Site. Further, the state's Empire State Trail, currently under construction, will provide pedestrian and bicycle friendly travel north from Olana and the Rip Van Winkle Bridge directly into the City of Hudson.
Increase Year-Round Tourism for Upstate New York through World Class Attractions at Our Mountains and Olympic Facilities
New York's ski resorts are critical drivers of tourism and economic activity and remain a significant source of economic potential. Under Governor Cuomo, the state has made significant investments to modernize facilities and ensure they can compete with other world class ski destinations. Last year, the state committed $28 million for Whiteface and Gore Lodge renovations and expansion and a new Gondola for Belleayre Ski Resort—a first for the Catskills.
To continue the momentum and drive economic growth, Governor Cuomo proposes to invest in critical infrastructure improvements and additional year-round attractions at Whiteface Mountain, Gore Mountain, Belleayre Mountain and the Olympic Facilities. Investment in these cherished state assets will ensure success for generations to come and bring significant economic and tourism activity to the state.
Bridge the Gap in the North Country's Tourism Lodging Needs
Tourism stakeholders have identified the need to address the lack of full-service lodging in the state's North Country because of the region's dependence on seasonal accommodations and the lack of sufficient places for visitors to stay that appeal to their varying needs.
To help address this problem and encourage further development, the state will provide the North Country region with tools and resources to catalyze private investment in lodging. Empire State Development will commission a study to identify lodging development opportunities in the Adirondacks and Thousand Island regions and provide $13 million in capital funding through the REDCs and Upstate Revitalization Initiative to spur development activity.
Bring the World University Games back to Lake Placid in 2023
New York State is proud of its support for Lake Placid as a global destination since the historic 1980 Olympic Games, and Governor Cuomo is committed to maintaining and expanding that legacy.
Today, Lake Placid is recognized worldwide as a “model city" for its successes as a former Olympic site, and this year it will hold five U.S. Olympic Team trials. Lake Placid is also in a unique position to secure the International University Sports Federation's 11-day World University Winter Games, the largest university winter multi-sport competition in the world, to be held in 2023. Lake Placid previously hosted the event in 1972. Bringing the games back to Lake Placid will further strengthen the city's legacy as a global center for winter sports, attract new tourists to Lake Placid and neighboring communities, and fuel a critical engine of the North Country's economy.###