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NYS showcases new tourism videos for post-COVID return of visitors

The new carousel at Buffalo's Canalside is among the attractions featured in New York's latest tourism videos.
Empire State Development Tourism Advisory Council
The new carousel at Buffalo's Canalside is among the attractions featured in New York's latest tourism videos.

While New York's tourism industry is struggling, Albany and Washington are putting money into getting ready for the effects of COVID finally easing and perhaps for the Canadian border to fully reopen.

Just looking at some of the TV ads Empire State Development has put on the air recently shows how important tourism is to New York, from Niagara Falls to Panama Rocks to the Empire State Building. Millions of dollars have gone into the ads, tourism promotion meetings in that industry, even if on Zoom, and job fairs for prospective employees.

"It's become clear to us that since the pandemic, there is an increased interest, particularly among international travelers, for outdoor recreation opportunities. And, of course, New York State has ample offerings in this area," Tourism Executive Director Ross Levi told a meeting of the state's Tourism Advisory Council Monday. "So (Mark Lane) and his team put together this marketplace to take advantage of wholesalers looking for additional product to offer, particularly in the outdoor space."

Levi said the state is cranking up the machinery to be ready when tourists roll in, whether from Europe or Asia or Canada.

"There's certainly improvements in tourism, from the depths of the pandemic. But we're certainly not yet where we want to be and where we need to be." Levi said. "Many of you have heard the news that the travel restrictions for fully-vaccinated international travelers are being lifted by the federal government, starting in November. That's great news. We hope that will help areas like New York City and Greater Niagara."

"We miss our neighbors from the North, so we want to make sure that they feel welcome," said Advisory Council Chair Christyne Nicholas. "Even when the borders are opened, we want to make sure they feel safe, coming to New York State and all around."

Levi said the state is working with educational programs that can train workers for tourism industry jobs, to get them ready as the visitors increase.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.