National Travel & Tourism Week, May 2-8, 2021

Orleans County Recognizes National Travel and Tourism Week 2021

Albion, NY  — National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), the annual celebration of the contributions of the U.S. travel industry, will spotlight the critical role that travel will play in driving economic recovery efforts and building the path forward through the theme Power of Travel.

Celebrated annually the first full week in May, NTTW was created by Congress in 1983 to elevate the economic power of travel in the U.S. The 38th annual NTTW (May 2-8) arrives at an opportune moment to recognize the importance to the U.S. economy of initiating a post-pandemic travel recovery.

“NTTW takes on a special significance this year as the travel industry looks to rebound quickly from the pandemic and accelerate recovery efforts,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “The past year was incredibly challenging, but we saw the full power of the travel industry on display in the way we united and supported one another through this crisis.”

“Before the pandemic, travel generated $2.6 trillion in economic output, supported 17 million American jobs and delivered a $51 billion trade surplus to the U.S.—evidence of the outsized role the industry will play in America’s broader economic recovery,” said Dow.

Fresh Air Adventures - New York's Falls to the Finger LakesOrleans County Tourism is saluting the power of travel by participating in a number of regional and statewide campaigns. The “AGLOW” region is launching their new website “Fresh Air Adventures – New York’s Falls to the Finger Lakes”, www.freshairadventuresny.com this month featuring tourism assets throughout Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties as well as an online trip planner. 

Roam the EmpireThrough our association with the New York State Tourism Industry (NYSTIA), Orleans County is participating in a statewide collaboration, “Roam the Empire”. NY’s destination marketing organizations, museums, attractions, and other tourism related businesses are rallying New Yorkers to ‘ROAM THE EMPIRE’ and choose their home state when making their 2021 travel and vacation plans. Organizers of the ‘ROAM THE EMPIRE’ initiative point to the obvious benefits that will result if New Yorkers choose to explore the Empire State and vacation in-state in 2021.

Tourism is the third largest industry in New York State. During the pandemic year of 2020, tourism was inarguably New York’s most impacted industry. By year-end 2020, the tourism industry was devastated:

  • Average annual employment declined 34%, a loss of over 330,000 jobs vs 2019 – nearly three times the employment impact in any other major category!
  • An estimated 56% loss in travel spending and a corresponding 45% drop in tax revenues, the third most severely impacted state in the country!

Orleans County actually fared better than the metropolitan regions due to our wide open spaces, including world class fishing, the Erie Canal, the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and our camping facilities. Campgrounds were filled to capacity throughout the summer. The total bed tax collected during 2020 had remained on par from 2019 collections, partially due to the popularity of airbnb vacation rentals during the pandemic. Despite losing valuable state funding used to promote tourism in our area, we’ve had to adjust our sails to continue the momentum created when our department was expanded in 2018. The staff at the Tourism Promotional Agency of Orleans County had to think outside the box to market Orleans County on a limited budget in 2020 and looks forward to 2021 when new funding resources become available. 

Said Orleans County Tourism Director, Dawn Borchert: “Despite the hardships of the last year, Orleans County is ready and eager to welcome back visitors and help drive New York State’s recovery efforts, especially for our local restaurants, specialty shops and attractions. National Travel and Tourism Week, the ‘Roam the Empire’ and ‘Fresh Air Adventures NY’ campaigns will remind visitors and residents of the incredible contributions of the travel industry not just to our local economy and workforce, but to our community’s identity and culture.”

Please visit ustravel.org/NTTW to learn more about National Travel and Tourism Week; www.iloveny.com to view the opportunities to Roam the Empire; www.freshairadventuresny.com to view local attractions and of course, www.orleanscountytourism.com to share our wonderful tourism assets as we welcome our visitors.

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Fall fishing on the Oak

New Fall Fishing Program

Fall fishing is well underway—and the New York Canal Corporation and Department of Environmental Conservation are working to create a longer season and even better angling experience in Western New York.

For the first time in recent memory, New York is raising canal gates and releasing water from the Erie Canal into Lake Ontario tributaries. These world-class fishing locations are going to be even better — expect more brown trout, steelhead and Atlantic and Pacific salmon to run up these streams.

The water releases began in late September and will continue until mid-December.

  • Until October 18, flows in the Sandy Creek will be increased to mimic a heavy rainfall event.
  • From October 19 to 30, similar high flows will occur on the Oak Orchard Creek
  • The annual draining of the western portion of the Erie Canal will take place over a longer period of time and send more water down all Lake Ontario tributaries (Eighteenmile, Johnson, Oak Orchard, Sandy and Salmon Creeks). These creeks will experience increased flows November 6 to 15 and December 4 through 14.

For more details on the program, download the brochure by clicking here or on the image below. To obtain a printed brochure, contact dawn@orleanscountytourism.com.

Kayaking the Erie Canal

Enjoy Wide Open Spaces this Summer!

Most likely, your travel plans for 2020 went out the window along with any sense of normalcy. We empathize with all who are looking to escape from the stressors of the last several months while trying to circumnavigate the restrictions to travel long distances or visit major attractions. 

Whether you’re in need of a sense of tranquility or “Back to Nature” adventures, Orleans County offers a great remedy to those pesky limitations: Wide Open Spaces. Trails such as the Erie Canalway Trail, the Seaway Trail and even the Niagara Wine Trail offer some stimulating possibilities combining waterways, wine and wonder. Whether you travel by boat, bike or the traditional methods of transportation, there’s plenty to see and do in the region. 

  • Follow the Barn Quilt Trail and hit up our farm markets for delicious, fresh off the farm produce and award winning wines. 
  • Rent a boat or kayak and meander down the tranquil Oak Orchard River or Erie Canal and catch a glimpse of an eagle or blue heron. 
  • Seek out a wide variety of wildlife at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. 
  • Fish the open waters of Lake Ontario to pursue the illustrious King Salmon.

To whet your cultural appetite:

  • Visit any one of our museums to learn about the impact the Erie Canal had on our region’s development specific to cobblestone and sandstone architecture and maritime history. Or marvel at an impressive model train display longer than a football field.
  • Consult with our maps online to take a driving tour to 37 military monuments, 23 significant sandstone structures, 100 cobblestone buildings or over 50 barn quilts.
  • For “Creativity Seekers”, quilters, antique collectors or those into the healing arts and metaphysical, our villages are teeming with interesting shops and studios that will inspire your own style and creativity. 

Contact us for your free travel guide featuring comprehensive lists of lodging, restaurants and activities to choose from. Whether you make it a day trip or spend several nights here, we know you’ll collect some fond memories in Orleans County’s wide open spaces in 2020!

Celebrating National Travel & Tourism Week in Orleans County

National Travel & Tourism Week Logo, May 3-9, 2020

National Travel & Tourism Week, May 3-9, 2020

It seems futile to celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week during a pandemic that we haven’t seen the likes of in our lifetime! But we would be remiss not to share what tourism means to Orleans County and speculate how we’ll fare this summer. A proclamation was signed by our legislature in April proclaiming May 3 to May 9, 2020 as National Travel and Tourism Week in Orleans County, NY, and “we urge the citizens of Orleans County to join us in recognizing the critical role this industry places in Orleans County”. Highlights of the proclamation are as follows: 

  • Tourism is the foundation of a healthy workforce, whereby Tourism Industry Employment remains the 3rd largest Industry in New York State, supporting 15.8 million jobs in the U.S. in 2019, including 9 million directly in the travel industry and 6.8 million in other industries. 
  • Spending by travelers has aided state and local governments alike, generating $180 billion in tax revenue last year to support essential services and programs nationwide. 
  • Nearly 253 million visitors traveled to New York State in 2018, generating an economic impact of $114.8 billion, including direct spending of $71.8 billion and state and local taxes of $8.9 billion.   
  • According to the NY State DEC Anglers Survey for 2017, the total annual economic impact to Orleans County from sportfishing alone was $27 million with $5.1 million in local and state tax revenue.  
  • The spirit of travel will be a necessary and prominent component of our return to everyday life after the NY Pause is lifted and must be promoted, supported and protected at all costs. 

The Orleans County Tourism Department is funded through occupancy tax which has continually increased each year, with a record of $58,000 collected in 2019. This 4% “bed” tax is collected by our motels, inns, lodges and vacation rentals which is then matched by NY State through the I Love NY marketing campaign. In 2020, we began working with a record high budget of $120,000 to promote tourism in Orleans County, but, we are currently at risk of losing the state funds due to the pandemic. However, that’s not going to stop our momentum to promote tourism in Orleans County!

We just recently published the 2020 Orleans County Travel & Adventure Guide and we’re in the process of distributing them throughout the northeast at interstate travel centers, AAA offices, airports, convention centers and sending it to those planning a visit. The guide is the largest to date (48 pages) and loaded with historic and natural attractions to explore as well as places to shop, dine and stay. We expanded on our trails feature and even included a list of ice cream shops this year! The guides are currently available at the Orleans County Administration Building and will be stocked at the four county libraries (designated as official Orleans County Visitors Centers) as well as several of our tourism partners (museums, lodging, advertisers) as soon as they reopen.

Orleans County Tourism is involved in several co-op projects with neighboring counties. We recently unveiled the 100 Must See Miles on the Erie Canal brochure in partnership with Visit Rochester and Wayne County Tourism. This brochure showcases 50 unique points of interest along the Erie Canal in the 3-county/100 mile stretch between Medina (Orleans) and Clyde (Wayne County). We are also included in two new regional websites: the Lake Ontario Sport Fishing Council (LOSPC) – www.ilovenyfishing.com and the GLOW region’s updated brand, “Fresh Air Adventures” which is scheduled to be live before this summer.

Between January and April, our tourism director, Dawn Borchert represented Orleans County at travel and outdoor shows touting Orleans County and especially our ideal location. Shows included the NY Times World Travel Expo, the Harrisburg Outdoor Show, AAA Shows in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and the Fly Fishing Expo in New Jersey with Ron Bierstine of Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge. Meeting travelers face-to-face has been invaluable to find out what the consumer is interested in and introducing them to the variety of Orleans County’s assets.

Aside from visitors attending weddings, reunions and family functions, we have found those who come to Orleans County are generally from the Northeast US and visit primarily for fishing, craft beverage touring, shopping and being near water, specifically the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls. In this pandemic while the large cities’ tourism and convention bureaus are taking devastating economic hits, rural communities such as ours are expected to fare better while travelers are looking for “socially distant” activities such as camping, fishing and enjoying the outdoors. A recent survey polled 1,000 NYS residents across different age groups and the results support our speculation regarding traveling post-quarantine in NY State: 57% are attracted to local areas with natural attractions and smaller communities. Travelers will be avoiding long trips, 71% will travel by personal vehicles (avoiding public transportation – airplanes, trains, cruises) and opt for stay-cations this summer. The activities that are expected to experience significant decrease in attendance are the amusement parks, casinos, theaters/concerts and museums with high capacity. 

We are saddened by the fact that so many of our hometown events have been cancelled this summer – our events that can pass for a backdrop in a Hallmark movie. The Memorial Day Parades, Strawberry Festival, Independence Day Festival, Holley and Albion’s Summer Fests and several concert series are being shelved for the health and safety of our community. We remain optimistic that after the NYS Pause is over, we expect that our restaurants, shops, marinas and campgrounds will be back in business and our vacation rentals occupied with visitors taking advantage of our rural location while maintaining social distancing. And, we anticipate our communities will be spontaneous and creative, yet responsible when it comes to entertainment.

We’re reminded of the final scenes from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” when all the Whos from Whoville came out of their homes on Christmas morning and joined hands in celebration despite having their Christmas presents and decorations stolen. Their joyful spirit couldn’t be broken, and subsequently “the Grinch’s heart grew three times that day!” We predict that day is just around the corner! (Except we will be donning our homemade designer masks, remain 6’ apart and refrain from holding hands!)

We have so much to be grateful for here in our corner of the world that many of us take for granted – Lake Ontario, the “Oak”, the historic Erie Canal and the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge – just to name a few of our natural assets waiting to be navigated, fished and explored. Coupled with strong communities teeming with pride, spirit and creativity, why wouldn’t anyone want to make Orleans County this summer’s destination? 

Wishing you and yours the safest National Travel & Tourism Week!

Introducing the 2019 Orleans County Travel Guide

After months in the making, the Orleans County Tourism Staff is pleased to announce that the 2019 Travel Guides are available! These guides will be distributed throughout the northeast at travel centers (including the NYS Thruway), AAA offices and local businesses. If you would like a copy, complete and submit our request form. View the online version here. Thank you to our contributing photographers and advertisers!