Westchester Introduces Tourism Initiative

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Westchester Director of Tourism & Film Natasha Caputo and County Executive Rob Astorino were in Tarrytown Wednesday to unveil the county’s new “Meet Me in Westchester” tourism initiative.
Westchester Director of Tourism & Film Natasha Caputo and County Executive Rob Astorino were in Tarrytown Wednesday to unveil the county’s new “Meet Me in Westchester” tourism initiative.

Westchester County would like more visitors.

County Executive Rob Astorino unveiled a new branding campaign, Meet Me in Westchester, which capitalizes on a comprehensive study of how residents, visitors and businesses perceive Westchester County as a tourism destination.

“Tourism has been gaining strength across all sectors – retail, recreation, food, beverage, lodging and transportation,” Astorino said. “The opportunity in front of us is to build on that momentum. One way to do that is to increase awareness of just what the county has to offer visitors as well as residents. The Meet Me in Westchester campaign is designed to do just that.”

Tourism represented 6 percent of the total jobs in Westchester in 2011. In addition, Westchester accounted for 54 percent of all travel and tourism spending in the Hudson Valley region, according to Tourism Economics, a consulting company that prepared the 2011 “Economic Impact of Tourism” report for the New York State Department of Economic Development.

A survey conducted about the county found that people view Westchester as an affordable and accessible getaway destination that people know has many venues for business and fine dining. Challenges include building awareness and encouraging people to recommend the county as a tourism destination.

“Westchester has a great deal to offer both the leisure and business traveler,” said Dan Conte, general manager of the Westchester Marriott and president of the Westchester Hotel Association. “Branding and developing outreach programs that meet today’s market conditions are crucially important to creating and retaining customer loyalty.”

The Meet Me in Westchester advertisements will initially focus on a 100-mile radius of Westchester. The campaign will highlight some of the county’s top attractions, facilities and restaurants.

Meet Me in Westchester will highlight our 18,000 acres of open spaces, many miles of hiking and biking trails, almost 900 restaurants and  6,000 hotel rooms,” said Natasha Caputo, director of Tourism & Film. “We think Westchester will be hard to resist once people know all the things we have to offer.”

Caputo said there are no new hires for the initiative and that it is being funded by the county’s Hotel Occupancy Tax.

“We are assessing what tourism is,” Caputo said. “It’s a $1.7 billion industry. How do we advance Westchester as a premier regional destination and create a position that attracts people for a short-term getaway?”

The county aims to take advantage of its close proximity to New York City and being the first stop in the Hudson Valley. They have also increased packages and partnerships with Metro-North.

“Westchester is a good place to come to,” Caputo said. “Summer is a great time to enjoy Westchester’s outdoors. We offer hiking and biking, and the historic Hudson Valley.”

Westchester has also been promoting itself to the film and TV industry, with movies such as “Bitter Pill,” “Admissions” and “Innocence” being recently filmed in the county. TV shows like “The Good Wife” and “Girls” have also been filming in Westchester.

“We’re busy, which is good,” Caputo said.

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