British tour operators, 16 of them, are visiting Central New York as part of a push to get more international tourists here.
Brand USA, a national tourism marketing organization, is sponsoring several tours this month. The group here began its sample tour in Boston, moved through New Hampshire and Vermont, and then has stops in Lake Placid, the Syracuse area and Buffalo as it looks at a sample trip to sell to clients back home.
David Holder, head of the Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau, says Syracuse's location--between New York City and Niagara Falls--is one of the reasons we were picked as a stop, but the fact that there's a lot for a visitor to do here also helps.Holder says we don't have to build or add anything, we just need to publicize what we already have.
The tour group had lunch in Armory Square, at Small Plates, before heading to Onondaga Lake Park for a ride on the conference bikes. The group's bus then took them to the LaFayette apple orchards (in full bloom this week) and on to a vodka tasting at Beak & Skiff's new facility, and then on to a Skaneateles Lake dinner cruise. They'll overnight in Skaneateles.
One of the tour participants, Katie King, from Ian Allen Travel in Bristol, UK told us she didn't realize how beautiful it is here, and how much wildlife we have. The group is looking for activities for active tourists, and has also seen fly fishing and even rode a zip line. "It's so beutiful to see, and to be able to go home and tell the customers first hand what we've experienced, first hand knowledge is always best."
Holder says it'll take two to three years, before we see if we get results from this kind of tourist outreach effort.