BATAVIA — Visitors to Genesee County brought $184 million in total revenue this year from visitors, with about a month and a half to go.
The last couple of years have been a challenge the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s tourism effort, due to the pandemic, Interim President Tom Turnbull told the crowd gathered for Thursday’s annual chamber meeting and lunch at Terry Hills.
“Our staff has been very creative and done a very good job in changing strategy a little bit for the past couple of years,” Turnbull said. As an example, he said, the staff focused not on international travelers, but on local, day-trip travelers.
“The Dining Guide was part of that, so we did a Dining Guide promotion and a lot of different promotions of what’s going on in the county,” Turnbull said. “We got people into the county.”
Turnbull, who will be interim president until Brian Cousins officially becomes president Dec. 19, talked about a slide listing tourism impact statistics for 2022 for the county.
“This is even considered kind of a down year because we’re really just coming out of the pandemic,” he said, noting tourism is the No. 2 industry in Genesee County.
Each household in the county would have to be taxed an extra $599 to replace the visitor-generated tax the state and local governments received in 2021, one slide said.
“It’s a valuable tool for us in this county,” he said.
Signature events for next year will include the 51st annual Chamber Awards Dinner, scheduled for March 11 at Batavia Downs.
“There’s time to nominate. We still are looking for nominees for Business of the Year,” Turnbull said. “If you know a chamber member who’s deserving of Business of the Year or Entrepreneurial Business of the Year or Ag Business of the Year, Genesean of the Year, we have a form on our website. Just drop us a note on why you think they deserve it. It’s one of the toughest jobs we have is to try and pick the winners, because there are so many deserving businesses.”
Turnbull said the deadline for nominations is Dec. 31, but encouraged people to get them in sooner than that.
The Celebrate Ag Dinner will be March 25 at the Alexander Fire Hall. The Home Show will be April 14-16 at the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena in Batavia. The Golf & Bocce Outing will be in July, at a time and place to be determined. Details of the Ag Tour in September will be determined.
The U.S.-Canadian border opened at the end of September, an important development not just for tourism, but in general, Turnbull said.
“It’s been open a little this year, but really … a lot less hassle at the end of September,” he said. “We get a lot of Canadian visitors here. It’s really important to have that open. It (tourism) is going to really explode next year.”
The Wings Over Batavia Air Show is planned for September 2023 at the Genesee County Airport.
“We had an air show here, some of you remember, back in the late ‘90s … It’s going to be revived and it’s going to be Labor Day Weekend,” he said. “Looking forward to that — planning’s already going on on that.”
Turnbull talked about the $12 million project to be done by 8250 Park Road, LLC to turn the Quality Inn & Suites and Palm Island Indoor Water Park on Park Road into a Holiday Inn and Candlewood Suites. The water park would be open again by the end of spring, hopefully, Turnbull said.
“This is kind of important to the chamber. It’s important to everybody in the community,” he said. “It’s our next-door neighbor, the Quality Inn. They’ve fallen on a little bit of hard times, but, if you haven’t heard, it’s been bought out. That’s really been a flagship hotel. It’s really important that that building doesn’t stay there empty.”