AREA NEWSThe Putnam Examiner

Pataki Presents Initiatives to Grow Putnam’s Tourism Industry

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Libby Pataki
Libby Pataki

Putnam County Director of Tourism Libby Pataki’s latest stop in a series of meetings to share the initiatives her office is taking to promote tourism throughout the county was at the Village of Cold Spring Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, July 24.

Pataki told the trustees that her philosophy was not that tourism should drive the economic agenda of Putnam County, but that economic considerations, such as how more visitors might benefit local businesses and residents, should be the driving force in developing the tourism industry.

Pataki came to the meeting with a long list of ideas, some of which have already been implemented, as to how Putnam County could benefit more from the tourists who take the train up from New York City for an event or to enjoy the outdoors.

“Our biggest strength is day-trippers,” she said, noting the train stations in Cold Spring, Garrison, Brewster, Southeast and Patterson.

Pataki cited a recent newspaper article that stated that Putnam County brings in an estimated $54 million in annual revenues from tourism. In comparison, Westchester County, which is much larger in size, Pataki noted, takes in $1.7 billion annually.

“We are a much smaller county. We are a much less populated county. We are much more rural county,” she said,  “But we have a lot going on.”

The biggest challenge Putnam County faces in regards to tourism, is the lack of places to stay overnight, which is even greater on the west side of the county – the gateway for an estimated 85 percent of all visitors to the county, Pataki said.

“They have no place to stay so they get back on the train and head back south,” she said, later adding that while she couldn’t envision a large hotel in Cold Spring, a more modest sized establishment might be suitable. “I would like to see a smaller inn with maybe 20, 30 or 40 rooms. There are so many people walking up and down [Main Street], I don’t think a 40-room inn will make it unbearable.”

Mayor Seth Gallagher said that part of the Village of Cold Spring’s comprehensive plan was to find a way to have tourists stay over night.

In the meantime, Pataki said there were other ways to grow tourism.

“We are trying to be as welcoming and as hospitable and as informative as we can possibly be by getting the word about what we do have,” she said.

Those efforts include a revamped website and a presence on Facebook in order to reach out to potential visitors from New York City, and those who are visiting the city from another country. Using digital media also had the added benefit of cutting down on overhead costs, Pataki said.

“There are people sitting in hotel rooms in New York City with international dollars to spend ,” Pataki said, later noting the benefit of attracting these tourists. “International travelers are going to come with more money.”

The tourism office also has proposed the creation of a map that can be distributed to tourists disembarking from a train.

“I want it be whimsical and hand-drawn,” Pataki said. “Maybe they will meander if they get a good map.”

As an example of taking an existing success and building on it to draw in more people from outside of the county, Pataki said that the decision was made to elevate the annual Tour de Putnam bicycling route to a more competitive level and rename it the Putnam Cycling Classic in order to draw in riders from outside areas, with the idea that those same people would return on multiple, future occasions to enjoy the cycling opportunities in Putnam County.

Given how many tourists come into the county through Cold Spring, Pataki said that she was searching for an office space at a low or no cost, so that she could split her time in between the tourism office in Carmel and a potential satellite office on the west end of the county.

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