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New director of county tourism

Caputo

An eager, well-equipped Natasha Caputo stepped into a new role recently as Westchester’s director of tourism and film, and with her arrived some noteworthy goals for the future of the county. Business and leisure travelers pump $1.4 billion into the local economy, but Caputo is aiming to increase revenue generated through tourism. Her background as a former vice president of New York City’s official tourism marketing organization will come in handy as she prepares a comprehensive plan to connect and engage Westchester’s big cities, small towns, institutions and corporations.

Her focus will be on “creating events or promotion that will showcase each town’s individualities, but yet ties into the big message of what makes Westchester County so great.”

“I think that’s going to be part of the challenge,” Caputo said.

“We are also home to marquee brands that do business here, and working with them to make sure we’re meeting their needs is really a priority for us. My approach is that we are an extension of their teams.”

She’s emphasizing businesses in her package as a means of attracting executives to host events and meetings at Westchester’s wide selection of brand, boutique and historic hotels. The office’s budget is funded by the county’s 3 percent hotel occupancy tax, which is bouncing back from a low of about $4.1 million in 2009 and is projected to reach $4.8 million for the 2011 fiscal year.

Caputo, a native New Yorker, decided five years ago to move to Mount Kisco. In her house-hunting, she discovered the region “has a lot to offer, has diversity, and the more that I looked at the different towns in Westchester, it was obvious to me that this is where I wanted to buy our home and raise our family.”

Working with the film industry is a new component to her job – New York City has a separate film office, so one new responsibility includes scouting properties to attract productions.

Caputo will continue discovering the ebb and flow of local tourism before making major projections or decisions, but her aims appear crystal-clear.

“I have great experience and passion for marketing and the sales cycle, and for trying to figure out how to overcome certain perceptions and challenges.”

She spearheaded key campaigns for New York like “Paint the Town,” “Summer Breaks,” “Shop 4 Class” and “Restaurant Week.” Naturally, she was excited to learn of Hudson Valley’s “Restaurant Week.”

Caputo said of her appointment, “The most exciting thing is to have a clean slate and really think creatively for us to move Westchester County ahead into the next level.”

1 COMMENT

  1. How much did she donate to the Republican Party for this job? Didn’t she work for a lobbyist group run by Rudy Guiliani’s former girlfriend and politcal hack? Another hack with connections.

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