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ROOST holds Adirondack tourism summit

October 31, 2014
By MATTHEW TURNER ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism hosted its first-ever Adirondack Destination Summit Friday, Oct. 24 at the Lake Placid Conference Center.

The summit was a gathering of about 50 people, comprising 13 Adirondack regions called "tourism destination areas," that plan to work together on branding the Adirondack region, share a marketing strategy and cooperate in other ways to draw in more tourists to their respective regions. The 13 regions include around 22 villages hamlets and towns. They cover most of the Adirondacks but not all of it.

The tourism destination areas are in different stages of developing strategies and goals for their region, ROOST CEO and President Jim McKenna said.

Article Photos

Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce Director Matt Courtright, left, explains his region’s opportunities and challenges during the Adirondack Destination Summit Friday, Oct. 24 at the Lake Placid Conference Center while Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO and President Jim McKenna looks on.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

"It's really all of us in this together because we are looking at population areas we want to attract to our individual destinations but the big brand we have is Adirondacks," McKenna said. "So that's why if we could work together and look at our different destinations as one unit I think we are going to be much more competitive in the marketplace. But to get there - there are definitely some things we still have to do and we're working on them."

During the summit, each of the 13 regions had a spokesperson discuss their region's individual opportunities and challenges.

Jessie Wells, a local business owner and member of the Lake Placid Business Association, was the representative of Lake Placid. Wells said one of the challenges Lake Placid faces is high rental costs for businesses. An area of opportunity is convincing more locals to shop in Lake Placid.

Fact Box

Tourism destination areas

Central Lake Champlain Valley (Willsboro, Westport, Chesterfield and Essex)

High Peaks Region (Keene, Elizabethtown and Lewis)

Indian Lake


Lake Placid

Long Lake and Raquette Lake

Minerva, Newcomb and North Hudson

Saranac Lake

Schroon Lake

Tupper Lake and Piercefield

Southeast Adirondacks (Ticonderoga, Crown Point, Moriah, Hague and Putnam)


Whiteface Region (Wilmington and Jay)

"There are many local businesses that offer those products at low prices, but it's the misconception that, being small businesses, our prices must be high," she said. "Drawing more local shoppers in would supplement the shoulder season."

Katy Van Anden, executive director of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, spoke for Saranac Lake. She said there is a lot of opportunity in niche marketing for local arts, wellness, paddling and recreational areas.

The biggest challenge for Saranac Lake is no occupancy tax in Franklin County and the lack of unified funding from the municipalities inside the Saranac Lake region, Van Anden said. There are three towns and one village within it.

McKenna said Saranac Lake's efforts to cooperate with other regions and ROOST led the charge for the entire group to think regionally.

Marie McMahon spoke on behalf of the High Peaks Region, a new group that includes Keene, Elizabethtown and Lewis. McMahon leads the Keene Business Association that recently partnered with the Elizabethtown-Lewis Chamber of Commerce. Keene was formerly a part of the greater Lake Placid region.

"We could never really gain our own identity," McMahon said. "Now we have that opportunity."

McMahon said hiking is the strongest draw to their region, with its 25 High Peaks inside Keene, and smaller mountains in Elizabethtown. Retail storefronts were described as one of its weaknesses.

Sandie Strader, former Tupper Lake mayor, said the Wild Walk being built at The Wild Center and the Adirondack Public Observatory are two things that will draw more tourists to her community. Two areas her community needs to work on are name recognition and development of the lakefront.

Michelle Preston, operations manager for the Whiteface Region Business & Tourism Center, said biking events have been a success for the region. "Dated lodging" poses a big challenge for the area. She said a name-brand hotel moving in would help the region. Not having enough lodging was consistently a topic most of the communities said they struggled with.

In the future, the groups will continue cooperate to create a Destination Marketing Plan, which is a plan to attract business and investment in tourism and infrastructure to transform the Adirondack region. McKenna said the Destination Marketing Plan should be complete around March and it will plan for a two-to-five-year time frame.



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