Visitor Economy Summit a Step Forward
By CASSANDRA HARRINGTON
Many businesses and residents in both Otsego and Schoharie counties are unaware of the services provided by Destination Marketing Corporation, the nonprofit organization contracted by both county governments to promote tourism, using occupancy tax revenue generated the year prior. They’re responsible for stewarding the brands “This is Cooperstown” and “Visit Schoharie County.” Public awareness has been one of the organization’s largest barriers to success. It was growing increasingly evident that something had to be done to unite the community around these efforts.
The phrase “help us help you” was uttered all too often among team DMC. Staff dreamt of getting “everyone” in a room to not only introduce DMC, but to generate awareness among residents about the effects of the visitor economy. Early in 2022—with the help of my team of two and Board Member Marcy Birch of Barnyard Swing—the outline for November 17’s Visitor Economy Summit and Community Roundtable at The Otesaga Resort Hotel began to take shape.
Keynote speaker Josiah Brown—otherwise known as The New York Sherpa, of Famous Destination Marketing—spoke about the impacts of the visitor economy.
The overarching message from his address was of the winds of change. Destination marketing organizations across the nation are uniquely positioned to provide resources and aid in economic development by way of the visitor economy. In doing so, DMOs are shifting to DMMOs, adding the word “management” to the moniker.
Jim McKenna, president and chief executive officer of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism in the Adirondacks, offered real-world examples of how this has been done. By establishing a dedicated funding stream through the collection of occupancy tax, ROOST was able to address issues like housing shortages.
Following the speakers, attendees participated in a facilitated roundtable exercise in which smaller groups worked together to identify challenges the community is facing and ways in which they could perhaps be addressed. Concerns about such things as transportation, wayfinding, workforce challenges, environmental protection, connectivity and more were explored.
It was great to see so many folks attend, especially those who perhaps never thought they were affected by the visitor economy, and there was a nice cross-section of business owners, managers, elected officials, and community members, resulting in a wide variety of feedback.
DMC aims to build more active relationships with other local organizations such as the colleges, Otsego Now, our chambers of commerce, the Community Foundation of Otsego County, and others to address issues brought to light during both the summit and in the roundtable that followed.
Destination Marketing Corporation’s mission is to steward local economic vitality through tourism generation and destination management which results in business development, pride of place, historical preservation, enhanced quality of life for our residents, as well as a memorable visitor experience.
Cassandra Harrington is the president and chief executive officer of Destination Marketing Corporation, the designated tourism promotion agency for both Otsego and Schoharie counties.