By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has invited the tourist industry to the table for New York state's first Tourism Summit, considered a major step toward bolstering visitor destinations across the Empire State.
"This is a first for the state's chief executive," said John Percy, president and chief executive officer of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., who will participate in the one-day conference in Albany today. Other summits have produced real results for different industries, cutting red tape and making it easier to do business in New York.
Percy noted that Cuomo had pledged earlier that his administration would focus on strengthening tourism and that he has made a concerted effort to fulfill that promise with the summit. Percy is the lone representative of the Niagara area invited to the session.
The governor has repeatedly emphasized that the tourism industry is the fifth largest employer in New York and a critical factor in the statewide economy,
"This summit will continue our dialog with the business community so that we can find ways to boost the tourism sector, create jobs and better market all that the Empire State has to offer," Cuomo added.
According to the latest figures available, tourism in New York supported 694,000 jobs and generated $16.6 billion in wages in 2011.