New group forms to attract visitorsYATES COUNTY—Tourists have been drawn to Yates County for decades and the recently formed Finger Lakes Visitors Association (FLVA) has announced plans to bring a coordinated effort to promote tourism and its related economic benefit in Yates County.
Board member Brian Zerges, owner of Best Western Vineyard Inn and Suites in Penn Yan, spoke by phone last week about the new organization, commenting, “A bunch of us started talking about tourism and this is an organization dedicated totally to tourism. It has already started to spur a long overdue dialogue regarding tourism in Yates County.”
Zerges said the group is putting together a marketing plan and is interested in working with any business or organization that has an interest in tourism in Yates County. He said, “As an organization, Finger Lakes Visitors Association is dedicated to gathering data and working cooperatively with businesses,” adding, “We also need to assess how other counties are doing. We’ll have a study done, either by ourselves or others, possibly bringing in an industry person. Then we can work in forming an action plan.”
He said a study would be expected to indicate where the county is today, then compare figures in a year. A marketing plan is in the future, a need that was identified as a project during the last couple of years. The group is developing a five-year tourism plan for Yates County, preparing grant proposals and planning events that will attract tourists to the community.
Zerges said the group has been in dialogue with other area organizations involved in tourism, such as Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, Finger Lakes Visitors Connection in Ontario County and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce. He said FLVA got a call from the Tourism Alliance, stating, “We’re going to work with you.”
Asked about membership in FLVA, Zerges said, “We’re still determining membership and will advertise. The goal is to be inclusive.” Tourism is one of the two largest industries in Yates County with the other being agriculture.
David Wegman, owner of Esperanza Mansion, is president of the organization. Members of FLVA board of directors are Steve Griffin, CEO Finger Lakes Economic Development Center; Cindy Marchenese, owner, Elm Street Barber Shop; Lauren Welch, market manager, The Windmill Farm & Craft Market; Ray Spencer, owner, Lake Street Wine & spirits; Cliff Orr, owner, Fox Inn B&B; Scott Osborn, owner, Fox Run vineyards; Dale Lane, owner, Remax Diversified Rentals and Carl Schwartz, owner, Finger Lakes Law Group and Lown’s House of Shops.
Wegman is president of the new organization. He said, “Fourteen percent of all wages in Yates County result from tourism spending. Yates County’s employment depends more on tourism than any of the other 13 Finger Lakes counties, yet unlike neighboring counties does not have a organization devoted entirely to promoting tourism. It does now.”
Zerges said, “I’m excited. This is long overdue. Businesses and counties are competing. To survive we have to work together and pool our resources so we can compete. This is one big step in that direction.”