During the recent Bienvenue Quebec convention in Saguenay Quebec, dozens of tourism representatives and bus tour operators were matched up in rotating 10-minute sessions — like in ‘speed dating’ — to promote visits to various destinations. Tanya Brand of the Warren County Tourism Department participated in the convention, in an ongoing effort to boost international tourism in Warren County. Meanwhile, officials of the Lake George Chamber of Commerce manned a booth at the International Travel & Tourism Show in Montreal, where about 25,000 people passed by their display.
Not only Warren County Tourism Office officials, but Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce personnel said this week they are ramping up their efforts to draw Canadian visitors to Lake George and Warren County.
Michael Consuelo, Executive Director of the Chamber, returned last week from the three-day International Travel & Tourism Show in Montreal where he spent eight hours per day talking up the Lake George area to thousands of people passing by the Chamber’s booth, located in the U.S. Pavilion at the show. He was accompanied by Jephson Hilary, president of the Chamber's board of directors.
“It was really gratifying to hear from so many of the people that they already knew about Lake George,” Consuelo said. “The show was an effective venue to promote Lake George and tell people there are so many things for visitors to do here year-round.”
Consuelo said that about 25,000 people passed by the Lake George Chamber’s booth, which features brochures, leaflets, and a continuously-playing video of the region’s amenities.
"It's natural that Canadians come to our area and partake of the scenic beauty and the shopping," Consuelo said, noting that many of the Canadian tourists headed for New York City stop off in Lake George. "We need to be more visible, and we need to be promoting more in Montreal."
In the 1950s through the 1980s, Canadian tourism was considered a key element to the success of Lake George businesses, and many accommodations went out of their way to attract them, including giving their properties Canadian names. By the 1980s, Canadian tourism constituted up to one-quarter of tourism in Lake George, and the Warren County Tourism Department had a representative stationed year-round in Montreal promoting the village.
Besides Consuelo, Tanya Brand of Warren County Tourism Office also was in Canada last week to promote the region, meeting with tour operators in the tour convention Bienvenue Quebec held in Saguenay, Quebec.
“I met tour operators from all over Canada, one-on-one to promote our area,” Brand said, adding that she spent about 10 minutes with each tour operator in a rotating session conducted by the convention officials. “It was like speed dating.”
She said that she also pitches Warren County at the Ontario Motorcoach Association conferences.
“We’ve had a great response — a number of the operators are currently doing a lot of business with us,” she said. “Canada is an important market for Warren County.”
Brand added that one of the approaches the county tourism department takes is to persuade bus tour operators to not just stop by on their way to and from New York City, but to stop for two nights and enjoy the area attractions, rather than just have a meal and leave.
“We are focusing internationally on the Canadian and Chinese markets,” she said. “We continue to pound away at Canada, because we know many tourists are traveling past us toward other destinations,” she continued, noting that many tour operators aren’t aware that Warren County has more than 300 motels.
Kate Johnson, Director of Warren County Tourism, said her department’s personnel attend various Canadian consumer and trade shows. The county also sponsors a television advertising campaign throughout the year, primarily in Montreal, highlighting each season’s activities in the Lake George region.
In addition, the department runs a series of Facebook ads, targeted to women, primarily promoting shopping in Warren County to Canadians, she said. Johnson’s department just last week finished producing a YouTube video touting local shopping, and it’s likely to be aired soon. The department also recently hosted travel writers from across the border. All year long, she added, plenty of brochures promoting Warren County are picked up in duty-free shops near the Canadian border.
Responses from lodging properties to a county occupancy tax survey indicated that about 6 to 7 percent of visitors staying overnight in the county are from Quebec and Ontario, Johnson said.