BY NATASHA CAPUTO
While your June 15 article “Tourism takes summer vacation in Westchester” did point out a number of the county’s attractions and wonderful assets, it significantly underplayed the importance of tourism in Westchester County during the summer months as well as all year round.
Our hotels design packages based on the season that align with the major attractions and events we have in Westchester County, and they are a huge success, drawing visitors from throughout the region. However, overnight hotel accommodations are only part of what we promote in the county. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Westchester County in all seasons, especially summer, for business and leisure day trips, hiking and biking, and historic site tours.
Summer also plays host to some of Westchester’s biggest events. The Clearwater Festival, inspired by folk legend Pete Seeger, is famous far and wide, drawing thousands of music fans. The American Gold Cup and the Toughman Triathlon have their own legions of fans.
From new events like the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Westchester Country Club to old standbys like Playland, Empire City Casino, the Tarrytown Music Hall and numerous sites throughout, there are lots of things drawing people to Westchester in the summer.
And, it’s not all leisure trips. New business associations are also bringing their conferences to our county. In May, Westchester was pleased to welcome the Travel Classics East conference, where more than 50 national editors and writers were in attendance. The New York State Association for the Education of Young Children will be returning to Westchester in 2016 and 2017 after many years upstate. In addition, for a second year, the county hosted the New York State Veterinary Medical Society.
It all adds up to a big boost to the local economy. Tourism generates $1.7 billion in spending. This represents 53 percent of all visitor spending in the Hudson Valley region, which stretches from Yonkers all the way to Albany and has grown 21 percent in the last five years. To put that in context, Westchester is right behind New York City and Long Island when it comes to visitor spending in New York state.
Bottom line: Westchester is open all year round when it comes to tourism.
Natasha Caputo is the director of Westchester County Tourism & Film.