Tourism

ROOST to market Hamilton County

By: LOHR McKINSTRY

LAKE PLEASANT — Hamilton County lawmakers have approved a $250,000 contract with the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism to promote their county.

The Hamilton County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously recently to award the one-year contract to the Lake Placid-based group known as ROOST that also markets Essex County.

ROOST President and Chief Executive Officer James McKenna said tourism promotion doesn’t follow county boundaries anyway.

“We’re already doing some promotions for a group of towns that border each other in Essex and Hamilton counties,” he said. 

“People travel to an area they want to visit. Most visitors don’t go by county. A regional approach is what works best.”

‘NEEDS LARGE HOTEL’

ROOST gets more than $1 million from the 3 percent Essex County occupancy tax to promote that county to visitors. 

Hamilton County doesn’t have an occupancy tax, but funds tourism promotion from its general fund.

After the departure of Hamilton County Tourism Director Ann Melious earlier this year, supervisors there decided to issue a request for proposals to take over the county’s marketing.

The vote to hire ROOST was 8-0, with Benson Supervisor Ermina Pincombe absent.

Four proposals were received, and Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chair William Farber said ROOST’s was deemed best.

He said Hamilton County needed to put emphasis on tourism destination planning and the need for more lodging.

Expanding Hamilton County’s tourism infrastructure is something they’re going to work on, McKenna said.

“They need more rooms, a large hotel, a resort. We need to determine where it should go and work on getting it.”

BROADBAND INITIATIVE

Melious did both tourism promotion and economic development, and Farber said the two tasks will now be split off.

William Osborne, who retired from the post in January 2011, just before Melious took over, has been filling in temporarily.

Osborne may now stay on to do just economic development.

Hamilton County has a broadband initiative underway that could provide high-speed Internet to more of the sparsely-populated county, and Osborne is expected to guide that to completion. 

The 2010 U.S. Census for Hamilton County showed only 4,836 people live there year-round.

MAY HIRE HELP

With broadband could come economic expansion, since so many businesses require fast Internet to manage their operations, Farber said.

The contract with ROOST, formerly known as the Essex County-Lake Placid Visitors Bureau, will start Jan. 1, 2014.

It stipulates $25,000 of the $250,000 can be used for administrative expenses; McKenna said he may hire one or two more employees.

The Essex County Board of Supervisors earlier this month endorsed ROOST’s bid for the Hamilton County contract.

ROOST Communications Director Kim Reilly said Friday they’re just starting to gear up for marketing Hamilton County.

“There will be a period of evaluation and planning. We’re excited about the opportunities this will open up.”

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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