As a full-service chamber serving a multi-faceted regional economy, we are often seen involved in economic development projects, the airport, Quebec relations and the border, small business services, and government affairs advocacy. Not always as visible locally, however, are our constant and active marketing efforts on behalf of tourism conducted by the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau, a division of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. This, of course, is because most of these efforts are directed outside the region.
Our tourism endeavors are somewhat different than in many areas of New York, primarily because of our strong connection with Quebec. And being part of the Chamber vs. a separate entity also adds power in many ways, including synergies with the marketing of Plattsburgh International Airport and our broader commitments to the border and to Quebec-New York relations as just a few examples.
Our V.P. for Marketing Kristy Kennedy and her deputy, Alyssa Senecal, along with many volunteers and partners, do an incredible job sustaining and enhancing the tourism part of our economy year in and year out in diverse ways. And it’s working.
While some border areas have fretted about the exchange rate and strains in the U.S.- Canada relationship, our consistent and comprehensive approaches have not only sustained Canadian visitation in recent years but helped to secure a significant increase this past summer. Final numbers are forth- coming but we know Canadian traffic here was up nine percent in June, destinations like Champlain Centre and Au Sable Chasm reported very strong Canadian business, there was an eight percent increase in Montrealers visiting our tourism website, hotel occupancy and Occupancy Tax receipts were up, county sales tax receipts exceeded expectations, and the Beekmantown Welcome Center assisted more than double the number of Canadian visitors stopping for information. And we oversaw another highly successful season of major bass tournaments on Lake Champlain.
A few weeks ago, the Chamber’s Board of Directors approved our Marketing Plan for 2019 which was then presented to and accepted by our partners at the Clinton County Legislature. It continues a strong focus on the Montreal and Ottawa markets along with enhanced efforts in the Capital Region. Working in collaboration with our ROOST friends, we will also devise and implement a first ever marketing campaign in the greater Washington, D.C. region, playing off our new United Express air connection with Dulles.
Our many commitments to social media will continue and be updated with online videos for a heightened commitment to such outlets as Instagram and geotargeted Google display ads. And we will continually update and refine our very well used website at www. GoAdirondack.com.
In addition, we already have five major fishing tournaments secured for 2019, including the FLW Tour, the Super Bowl of fishing events.
We also believe some of the more traditional elements of tourism marketing remain effective in our case, and so we will publish a redesigned bilingual travel guide while converting it to more of a magazine format. We will continue to be present and active at well targeted travel expos in Montreal and Ottawa and we will continue our motor coach marketing strategies.
All of this will, we are confident, continue to sustain a vibrant tourism sector in our area economy, adding to our overall economic success. But we also see this as important beyond the direct businesses most impacted. Our visitors, especially our Canadian friends, support the existence of attractions, activities, restaurants, and stores here that our local population could not otherwise sustain but which we all enjoy having. And these, and our quality marketing assist generally with economic development and the attraction of businesses and investment and the sale of homes. And they give our community a very special inter- national dimension which is unsurpassed anywhere else along the northern border.
We thank Clinton County and New York State for their committed partnership, and look forward to 2019 with another ambitious but well-conceived marketing plan.