Schumer proposes tourism investment program
TRI-COUNTY AREA—Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) spoke in
Watkins Glen, Thursday, Oct. 7, about a tourism bill he cosponsors.
The bill is called the Travel Regional Investment Partnership Act (TRIP Act). He explained it is geared toward increasing tourism through a grant program and by creating public-private partnerships. If approved, Schumer said tourist attractions could partner with a visitor’s bureau or area municipality, and apply for grants.
Schumer said the U.S. Commerce Department would judge proposals and award grants. He explained it would be a competitive process, where the Commerce Department would award matching grants up to $1 million.
“Communities in New York will likely be well positioned to compete for these grants since the state already has robust tourism infrastructure and hundreds of potentially interested private investors,” Schumer said in a press release.
“If there is an avenue for the private sector to access federal grant money to support tourism infrastructure development—it would be an interesting scenario to research,” said Yates County Chamber of Commerce President Mike Linehan. He explained he was not completely familiar with the proposal.
He added, “More importantly, however, we need to get the state of New York to increase its investment in tourism development and marketing. New York has fallen woefully behind its competitors in terms of what it spends and its commitment to the industry.”
“Given our demographic, we’re perfect candidates for funds,” said Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn. “This legislation could be perfect for our community.”
He said a project that comes to his mind first is creating a new visitor’s center. O’Hearn explained a grant could help the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce get the money needed to start the project. O’Hearn said other projects could come from the wine industry and Watkins Glen International.
“Creating jobs has got to be our number one priority and focusing on tourism is one of the most effective ways of doing that here in Schuyler County and throughout the Southern Tier,” Schumer said.
According to Schumer’s office, the grant money can be used build infrastructure, make improvements, and market destinations. Schumer said there are parks, museums and other attractions throughout the Southern Tier that could possibly benefit from passage of the TRIP Act.
While in Watkins Glen, Schumer also attended the first Taste of the Finger Lakes event. He said this sort of event is a good example of the tourism appeal in the Southern Tier.