Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, the official tourism promotion agency for Ontario County, will celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) next week, May 3 through 9. The annual celebration recognizes the contributions and accomplishments of the U.S. travel industry. This year’s theme spotlights resilience and hope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic: the Spirit of Travel.
Celebrated annually during the first full week of May, NTTW was created by Congress in 1983 to emphasize the economic power of travel in the U.S. The 37th NTTW arrives at an opportune moment to unite the industry, celebrate its indomitable spirit and elevate the role it will play in America’s economic recovery.
Each year, during National Tourism Week, the Ontario County Board of Supervisors has rendered their support of the tourism industry by recognizing the economic contributions of the industry. According to Valerie Knoblauch, president and CEO of Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, “this year it is particularly meaningful to have the support of our elected officials, as the hospitality industry adapts to social distancing guidelines and redefines how it can reimagine itself after these measures are lifted.”
Since in-person rallies and events that have been hallmarks of NTTW in years past are not an option this year, Finger Lakes Visitors Connection is honoring the Ontario County tourism industry virtually. Throughout the week, the tourism bureau will release their National Travel & Tourism Week slideshow, highlighting Ontario County’s Tourism industry family. Later in the week, they’ll host an industry webinar, sharing the results of an industry survey they launched to measure the impacts of COVID-19, along with the notes they compiled after holding 15 industry segment Zoom get-togethers over the past month. Each segment of the tourism industry was invited to a private Zoom call, allowing them to share stories and struggles with others in their tourism sector.
Later in the week, the Visitors Connection will launch an FLX Flavor Spotify List – the Ultimate Finger Lakes Playlist, curated from Facebook followers, highlighting their favorite Finger Lakes vacation tunes. An industry virtual Happy Hour is also scheduled so industry members can get together for conversations, trivia and Ontario County libations.
“This is an incredibly challenging time for our travel industry, but we see National Travel and Tourism Week as an opportunity to remind our visitors and our residents of the incredible spirit and resiliency of the travel industry and our workforce as vital economic generators,” Knoblauch. “The industry has received tremendous community support during this time, and there’s no doubt that our residents will be key advocates to invite travelers back to our communities and continue to learn what makes this area such a great place to live and work.”
Since the coronavirus shuttered the county, Finger Lakes Visitors Connection has been supporting Interim County Administrator Brian Young and Ontario County by curating videos from county school districts. The inspirational videos show teachers, coaches and students touting the need for social distancing as well as offering uplifting messages for their students and friends. The videos were posted on the Ontario County, Ontario County Public Health, and the Visitors Connection’s social media pages.
The tourism office also produced an online blog “Your Growing Guide of Things to Do During Physical Distancing.” The guide highlighted opportunities to spend quality time at home with family that you don’t usually have. The blog was published on the Ontario County, Ontario County Public Health, and the Visitors Connection’s social media pages. It is also available in Spanish.
In addition, the tourism bureau curated a list of Ontario County restaurants offering takeout, curbside pick-up or delivery at VisitFingerLakes.com/FLXtogo. The page has been viewed over 4,500 times since it was created in March. “Virtual Adventures from Your Living Room,” a curated list of many Ontario County attractions and adventures to enjoy right from your living room, is also highlighted there.
“Through every hardship, I find myself in awe of the travel industry’s ability to join together, adapt, and emerge stronger than before,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “This is our toughest challenge yet, but what I’ve seen is that the spirit of travel has not been shattered.”
To learn more about Finger Lakes Visitors Connection’s NTTW plans, go to VisitFingerLakes.com/Partners