Welcome Center on the Shore of Seneca Lake Promotes Regional Tourism, Historic Attractions and Locally-Produced Food and Beverages
Announces Record-Breaking Statewide Tourism Visitation and Direct Visitor Spending Figures for 2017
Project Complements "Finger Lakes Forward" - The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the official grand opening of the new Finger Lakes Welcome Center on the shore of Seneca Lake in Geneva, Ontario County. As part of today's announcement, Governor Cuomo also announced in 2017 New York welcomed 243.8 million visitors, who generated $67.7 billion in direct spending, breaking previous tourism records. The Finger Lakes Welcome Center furthers the Governor's commitment to statewide tourism by promoting local attractions and regional food and beverage producers, including the Finger Lakes' award-winning wines. New York Kitchen, formerly the New York Wine and Culinary Center, will operate the Welcome Center.
"The Finger Lakes are one of New York's greatest treasures, and the new welcome center in Geneva celebrates the region's rich culture and heritage and encourages visitors to explore the world-class attractions," Governor Cuomo said. "Tourism is vital to regional economies across the state, and our new visitor and spending records are proof positive of the success of our investments."
The Finger Lakes Welcome Center's theme, "Wine and Water," promotes the world-renowned assets of the Finger Lakes by paying tribute to the region's famous vineyards and namesake lakes. The region is home to more than 100 wineries, and wine barrels are featured prominently throughout the location. This location, one of eleven Welcome Centers being built across the state, will be the first location to sell New York State-made wine, beer, and cider at its Taste NY Market. Wine tastings and other programming surrounding New York State's booming craft beverage industry are being planned. The tasting bar will be available to local wineries and other food and beverage producers to use for promotional events with reservations made available through NY Kitchen.
Ginny Clark, President of New York Kitchen, said, "Since the inception of the NYWCC, now the New York Kitchen, we have been proud of our deep-rooted connection with the State of New York to highlight NYS wine, craft beverages, food, agriculture and tourism. We are excited to work with the Governor and to expand this partnership that will promote the best of the Finger Lakes to our guests coming from near and far."
Since taking office in 2011, Governor Cuomo has made unprecedented investments in the tourism industry throughout New York State, leading to historic levels of visitors and direct spending. In 2017, New York State welcomed a record 243.8 million visitors, representing a 2.6 percent increase over the previous year. Direct visitor spending also rose to $67.7 billion - a nearly $3 billion boost from 2016. Additionally, tourism remains the state's fourth largest employer, supporting more than 935,000 jobs annually.
Tourism is at the core of the Finger Lakes Welcome Center, with multiple interactive I LOVE NEW YORK kiosks positioned throughout, allowing visitors to test their knowledge of the region or design a trip itinerary. A large LED screen promotes regional tourism attractions and destinations, and an artifact wall features curated regionally-specific items. Canoes donated by the Finger Lakes Boating Museum are suspended from the ceiling and have been transformed into custom lighting fixtures. A glass-encased community room offering stunning views of the picturesque Seneca Lake. Organizations and groups may register to use the room for not-for-profit meetings and events.
The Finger Lakes are one of New York's greatest treasures, and the new welcome center in Geneva celebrates the region's rich culture and heritage and encourages visitors to explore the world-class attractions.
The Welcome Center features a Taste NY Market, which offers hot and cold lunch options such as seasonal soups and salads, sandwiches, and a kids menu, all made from fresh ingredients and products grown and produced by local farmers. The full menu can be found here. The Market will also offer grab-and-go snacks and gifts, including a variety of New York-made chips, trail mixes, jams and jellies, desserts, cheeses, maple syrup and more.
Outside the Center, a large I LOVE NEW YORK sculpture on the lake's shore provides the perfect setting for group photos and selfies, and the Walk of Fame recognizes famous New Yorkers from the region. Outdoor seating allows visitors to enjoy the local food with a vista of the lake, and a children's play area gives kids the opportunity to run and explore.
In October 2016, Governor Cuomo announced the grand opening of the Long Island Welcome in Dix Hills, Suffolk County. Since then, Welcome Centers have opened in New York City, the Mohawk Valley, the Southern Tier, and in Central New York. The remaining five centers are scheduled to open throughout 2018.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, "The new Finger Lakes Welcome Center will serve as a destination for travelers and promote the great local attractions, beverages and food in the region. This project continues to move the Finger Lakes forward, strengthening communities and growing the economy in the area. Our investments in New York's tourism industry are producing real results, with an increase in spending and a record number of visitors experiencing all that New York has to offer."
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The new Welcome Center will serve as a gateway to the region for visitors looking to explore the history and natural beauty of the Finger Lakes. Our investments in tourism are leading to record numbers of visitors and economic impact, growing jobs and opportunities in the Finger Lakes and throughout the state."
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "This new Welcome Center continues Governor Cuomo's commitment to link New Yorkers with all of the tremendous food and beverage producers we have in the state. It is also another sign of the rapid growth of our agricultural industry, as consumers learn to love products grown and created by their friends and neighbors. I look forward to visiting this facility and our Taste NY Market for quick and delicious snacks that celebrate the Finger Lakes region on my travels across New York."
In July of 2016, the Governor announced that the city of Geneva had been selected as the region's first round winner of the transformative $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Among the 12 projects selected to revolutionize the city's downtown area; $2.2 million will be used to improve pedestrian access to the Seneca Lakefront from downtown; $1.75 million to upgrade the overall pedestrian experience with streetscape enhancements, and $1.25 Million to establish Lake Tunnel Solar Village, a green infill residential development. Groundbreaking on that project is expected next month.
Senator Pam Helming said, "It is very exciting to have The Finger Lakes Welcome Center located right here in Geneva! Visitors to the Center will now have a wonderful opportunity to fully experience all that the Finger Lakes has to offer; from swimming and boating in our pristine waters to enjoying locally produced, fresh foods and award winning wines and craft brews. I am proud to have worked with Governor Cuomo and NY Kitchen President Ginny Clark to make this project a reality. This project is a very nice complement and connection to our downtown businesses as well as to the Cornell Center of Excellence at AgriTech and the Finger Lakes Community College's viticulture and wine technology program. I thank my colleagues and the Governor for their continued focus on investing in our region."
Ontario County Board of Supervisors Chairman, Victor Town Supervisor Jack Marren said, "Tourism is a vibrant and vital aspect of the economy in Ontario County. We are grateful for the State's investment in and the Governor's support of the Finger Lakes Welcome Center. The Center will provide a hospitable welcome to visitors and promote all of the attractions and businesses, products and services in the Finger Lakes for years to come."
Geneva Mayor Ronald Alcock said, "The city of Geneva is pleased to be home to the new regional Finger Lakes Welcome Center. I have no doubt that it will serve to attract even more visitors to the region while highlighting the wide range of destinations, products and local businesses that call the Finger Lakes home."
To plan your visit to the Finger Lakes region, click here.
Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today's announcement complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.2 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.
Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.