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Legislators hear tourism opportunities

PENN YAN--Gene Pierce, owner of Glenora Wine Cellars, Dundee, and head of the Yates County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC), briefed legislators Monday, July 8 on tourism overall in the county and the chamber's specific plans with local and regional groups to help drive area tourism.
Pierce explained the TAC comprises nine local individuals representing various segments from tourism businesses. The purpose of the TAC is to request and review applications for funding, giving priority to marketing activities that create overnight stays in Yates County. The funding criteria also states that activities and events must have a demonstrated return on investment.
Last year (2018) recipients of TAC grants included: Chamber Tourism Promotion Agency, $176,629; Finger Lakes Wine Country, $67,500; Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, $21,860; Fox Run Vineyards, $12,500; Friends of the Outlet, $10,000; Seneca Flight Operations (Mom's 5K), $5,000; Arts Center of Yates County, $5,000; Cornell Cooperative Extension of Yates Co.; Windmill Farm and Craft Market, $3,000; Scottish Festival, $1,000 and $12,500 for the TBEX Conference sponsored by the FL Wine Country. For the year, $309,889 was distributed. The revenue comes from the four percent occupancy tax on hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts as well as seasonal rentals that was initiated back in 2009.
Pierce said applications are now available for 2019 grants and are due back to the chamber by Aug. 23. Additional information for potential applicants is available by contacting the Yates Chamber at
Pierce also highlighted some additional key tourism facts at his Monday presentation and from material he submitted to legislature members prior to the meeting. They included:
• Yates County is the most dependent county on tourism with 11.6 percent of all labor income generated by visitors.*
• The average county growth rate in the region for tourism is 2.4 percent. Yates County is at 4.5 percent.*
• Finger Lakes tourism officials are working to receive federal designation as a National Heritage Area. Pierce said this is "huge" and will only help to increase the prominence of the area for visitors.
• Visitors spend $64 million in Yates County.*
*Source: 2017 Economic Impact of Tourism in New York (2018 data not yet available)
• Total local tax collections in 2016 for Yates County from tourism are reported at $7.9 million comprising $3.4 million from state and $4.5 million from local taxes.
After Pierce's presentation and after conducting a public hearing on the four percent occupancy tax (one person spoke against the tax), legislators approved renewing the county's 4 percent occupancy tax.

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