It’s National Tourism Week!  30 years ago, the government declared this week and 30 years ago, I started my job at Ontario County Tourism as the first Executive Director.  Flashback and flash forward and this is such an exciting industry.  IT’s exciting because IT’s never the same. Diverting for a minute and being trained as an English teacher, I never like the word “it”. “What is ‘IT’?” – surely there must be a more descriptive word. Well in this case IT is everything or nothing. Everything still exists – but nothing is the same.  Who would have ever dreamed when I started this job that I would be asking you to “Share and Tag”, to Pin me, Friend Me, Tweet #FLX?  When did the pound sign become a hashtag?  When did the hashtag lead you to a trip to Naples, Italy and Naples, NY?  (Teaser: you have to read to the bottom to figure out how to do that.) 
Yes, even the FLX geography has changed, the attractions have grown, the style of hotels have upgraded, our customers are more savvy – but mostly the ways we communicate with and service our visitors have changed. #FLXperience can be anyway you like it. (Nope, I did not forget the E on experience. People just don’t like vowels as much as they used to. Vowels take U 2 much time – especially when you have some instagramming to do!)  
This blog is a hats-off to our visitors!  From May 3 – May 11th we value all of you for choosing our destination as a place to play and stay!  And, in the true spirit of my job, I can’t help but give you a few tips of how to play and stay in the year 2014!  What do we have now that you could not have done 30 years ago?  So – get out there and explore. Er, sorry, that’s an old word.  I mean, get out there and tweet and text and, yep hashtag your #FLXperience.
Here’s my list!
Breweries – Yep, there are at least six new ones in Ontario County. The first was Naked Dove – and a great place to start your Finger Lakes Brewery tour!  P.S. designate a driver – we all care for your safety!
Roseland Family Fun Center – Bowling has been transformed with a new dimension using lasers and electronics and sound systems. I took our team there for a trial run – and it was so much fun to see the “decades” of youth enjoy this activity!
Shop – Get into those main street stores. Sure, they’re not all new – but they do have a renewed focus on local – and everyone’s all about it. With Mother’s Day and my birthday coming up – you might want to visit one of those stores. Hint, Hint. (May 13th color preference electric blue; sizes will not be posted here!).  
Eat what you cook – I love to cook and I’m going to enjoy my start to National Tourism Week at the New York Wine and Culinary Center.  A cooking/baking lust runs in our family, and there’s no place like the Culinary Center to have some hands-on fun and learn new techniques to take to the family dinner table.
Work it off! –  Have you been in the Geneva Bike Shop lately?  Well, it’s one of my favorite places to be because everyone there has a passion for the Finger Lakes – biking of all sorts.  Routes are available, rentals are available and you’ll feel good about yourself when done! 
30 years ago, fields of strawberries were considered agriculture, llamas were mostly in South America, and Alpaca Farms didn’t exist.  Visit one of our Alpaca Farms.  That’s right – we have more than one. In West Bloomfield we have Lazy Acre, in Honeoye we have Golden Oak Alpacas.  Love these critters – especially their hair (usually makes me feel like mine is never out of place!) LOL, as they text  today! 
Ready to rest yet?  Well 30 years ago you could have picked from one bed and breakfast and about 8 motels. Today? There are 134 gorgeous B and B rooms from which to choose AND three AAA Four Diamond properties to help you really live it up.  I’ll give these three a particular call-out because they exude the standards of top notch treatment we want our guests to know we can dish out.  Geneva On The Lake, Morgan Samuels Inn and Acorn Inn Bed and Breakfast.  O.K. so I can’t stop there because 30 years ago we didn’t have Trip Advisor, but today we do and that tourism review forum also helps us highlight some special places (have to add two more!) The Chalet Bed and Breakfast and 1840 Inn on the Main in Canandaigua.
There’s more to “IT”, much more to “IT”.  So let me tease you a little bit more by asking this question.
What is your prized past or anticipated future Finger Lakes experience going to be?  Let us know by using something else that has changed the tourism “IT” – social media.  Socialize with us – and win prizes.  Tweet us, Friend us, Pin us, and Instagram us.  In fact, a bit of a tease for you is that you could win big prizes for sharing your FLXperience!  Check it out with this link – and celebrate the whole year!