Niagara Gazette

May 25, 2008

TOURISM: State Explore NY grants boost local marketing efforts

By Dan Miner<br><a href="">E-mail Dan</a>

Several local tourism marketing efforts will have the help of the state’s Explore NY grants.

Those grants include $50,000 each to the Niagara Wine Trail and Binational Tourism Alliance and $35,000 to promote the “Wine, Water and Wonders” project aimed at international tour operators.

The grants, administered through the Empire State Development office, are designed to “encourage integrated, thematic approaches to tourism promotion,” according to an ESD release. Gov. David Paterson announced the recipients at a conference in Lake George recently.

The $50,000 infusion nearly doubles the wine trail’s current marketing efforts, said Oscar Vizcarra, current president of the wine trail.

“(It) allows us to promote our businesses and also be competitive to other attractions with bigger budgets than we have,” Vizcarra said. “It’s a good thing for all our wineries.”

The money can be spent in any way, as long as it’s focused on marketing, Vizcarra said.

For the Binational Tourism Alliance, the money will be spent expanding the Niagara By Design program aimed at the area’s heritage tourism.

The program, which is coming up on its eighth year, has been operating as a tour and educational event in October focusing on the architecture in Western New York and Southern Ontario, said Arlene White, the tourism alliance’s executive director.

The grant will help continue an expansion of the program, including new speakers and movies, Arlene White said. The goal is to take the event from a weekend program to an “expanding season.” The tour takes people to places such as Fort Niagara, the Castellani Art Museum and Lockport’s Erie Canal attractions.

“It’s very cool in the sense that it gives people a new sense of appreciation for the place we live in,” White said. “But it also attracts new people as well.”

Grant money will also be used to advertise in cities such as New York City, Toronto, Cleveland and Rochester.

The “Wine, Water and Wonders” tour is aimed at increasing interest and awareness of Upstate New York to international tour operators, and involves tourism agencies from the Finger Lakes, Rochester, Corning and the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp.

The program is in its second year and offers a thematic trip for foreign travelers on their way from New York City to Niagara Falls.

“We’re linking activities and trying to extend the stay of the international visitor,” Percy said.

The grant money will be used to market the tour in the United Kingdom and Germany, Percy said.

Contact reporter Dan Miner at 282-2311, ext. 2263.