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State Legislature Discusses Importance of Tourism at Amherst Forum

By Anthea Passmore

Amherst, NY – Senator Mary Lou Rath chaired a tourism roundtable in Amherst Tuesday. Local tourism representatives joined Senator Rath along with other members of the Western New York delegation. The forum allowed legislators and tourist professionals to discuss strategies to draw tourists to the region.

New York City is a popular tourist destination for many around the globe. The 'Big Apple' draws many to the city but few to the 'Empire State.' Tourism is the states second largest business.

"Tourism is important all across New York," Rath said. "Last year, there were more than 55 million people visiting New York State and they spent more than $37 billion."

Senator Mary Lou Rath and Assemblyman Joseph Morelle have chaired four of the seven proposed roundtables. Rath said the objective of these forum discussions is to develop continued partnerships between state legislators and tourism professionals and to entice tourists to the many attractions here in New York.

At the roundtable discussion Senator James Alesi pointed out the merits of tourism's all around appeal. He said tourism is a year round, 24 hour a day industry. Tourism is a significant revenue generator and it can create jobs. Senator Rath said generating tourism in Western New York comes down to better marketing of the region.

"The issue is marketing money," Rath said. "We spend about $16 million marketing statewide. That was reduced after 9/11. Pennsylvania spends $30 million on tourism. And the New England states spend $30 million. So, we need to spend more to bring people in."

Some of the concerns that came up during the roundtable discussion were the requirements of passports to cross the Canadian border and its implications on tourism, where funding for advertising and marketing could be generated and better Internet resources for would be tourists.