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Promoting NY History Tours: ILoveNY And China

Last week, I asked readers to “consider what might happen if Empire State Development and I Love NY actually promoted New York State History and reached out to tour operators to visit historic New York.”

That drew a comment from “Cathy” about her experience in Rockland County:

August 9/10 we at HSRC are doing a SOLD OUT bus trip to Albany / Cohoes/ Mohawk Valley themed on The Summer of 1777, but we needed blood sweat and tears to make it a go, with subsidized dollars. Wouldn’t it be great if a small fraction of the monies talked about in this post went to subsidize any local history group’s initiated and supported history events, especially history bus tours? We have no shortage of ideas and great itineraries…internal to Rockland County, regional to metro NY, or most recently in upstate NY, and even SMALL funding amounts would make those possible.

In a recent private telephone conversation, a tour operator from the Mohawk Valley expressed similar views. Both comments bring me to the subject of a recent initiative involving tour operators and Empire State Development (ESD). It shows what could be done if ESD / ILoveNY were serious about supporting the New York State history community.

Markly Wilson, Director International Marketing at New York State Division of Tourism (naturally located in Manhattan), sent the following e-mail:

Dear Tourism Regional Director:

Attached is the updated itinerary for the upcoming China Ready Workshop/Familiarization tour about which we have previously alerted you as well as the invitation for your region. We would appreciate your assistance in refining the itinerary and ensuring maximum attendance at the workshops.

Familiarization Tour Itinerary:

This is the second in a series of tours of tourism promoters from the China market. It will consist of representatives of 12 carefully selected tour operators from China and the US that are seeking to add New York State to their offerings, four representatives of the ILNY offices in China, and a China based expert on marketing to the Chinese.

This itinerary is based on recommendations from the hosts of the previous tour for China office staff as well as feedback from ILNY China staff.

We now request that you coordinate with the TPAs in your region, and the host TPA to ensure that suitable destinations not previously seen are included in the allotted time.

The Workshops:

The workshops are for any representatives of the private sector, government, and organizations that are interested in attracting visitors from China. There is no charge to attend the workshops. We urge you to work with all of your constituents and tourism promotion organizations to ensure they are aware of, and sign up to attend.

Apart from registration instructions, the registration site includes:
– Background on each tour operator
– Background on the main China Ready Presenter
– Listing of ILNY China staff

Investigation of the attachments included with the e-mail reveals that the trip includes:

one day touring Long Island, sites not specified;
one day in the Hudson Valley including Madava Farm-Crown Maple Syrup, FDR, Walkway over the Hudson, and Storm King;
one day in Albany including the USS Slater, Empire State Plaza, State Museum, the Capitol and an afternoon “China Ready Seminar”;
a morning in Saratoga and an afternoon in Sharon Springs;
Cooperstown with stops at the Glimmerglass Festival, Fenimore Art Museum/ Farmers Museum, and village walking tour;
one day in Utica with an Erie Canal cruise and visits to Adirondack Distilling Company, Saranac Brewery, Stanley Theatre and Munson Williams Proctor Art Museum and an afternoon China Ready Seminar;
one day in the Finger Lakes including Watkins Glen State Park, Finger Lakes Winery, and the International Boxing Hall of Fame;
a morning in Rochester with a China Ready Seminar;
an afternoon at Corning Glass; and
3/4 of a day touring Buffalo

The “Becoming China Ready” workshops are promoted as “a workshop designed to help you capture your share of the $102 billion Chinese outbound tourism market” with presentations on “understanding the Chinese visitor,” and “how to work with Chinese tour operators.” These workshops will feature:

13 Tour Operators from across China and the US who are interested in adding New York State products;
Staff from the 4 I LOVE NY offices in China;
A respected expert on marketing to the Chinese; and
Meetings between a representative of your region and each tour operator

My purpose in highlighting this program is not to comment on the presence or absence of history sites in the visit by China, but to raise the issue of why such programs haven’t been offered on behalf of the Path through History.

Where are the programs showcasing the history of New York that bring the tour operators and the historic sites together on location? I am not referring to conventions in Manhattan which the Tourist Regional Directors may attend, but inviting tour operators to visit each of the regions in the Path through History project or holding statewide meetings in New York City or Albany on the themes of the Path through History project. For example, besides having a program in Central New York to highlight its heritage to the Chinese, there could be a statewide meeting on the American Revolution where all the regions including the Mohawk Valley to showcase its role in that event.

Recently I wrote about immigrants and New York State history. I wondered how the Path through History, and implicitly ILoveNY, market the stories of the immigrant contribution to New York and America. Besides the Palatines, Dutch, and Italians mentioned in the post one could add a plethora of peoples to the list including the Chinese.

The ESD program created to entice Chinese tourists to New York combining tour operators, touring, and workshops could be replicated to promote the immigrant heritage in New York as well as all the other themes identified in the Path through History project and in all the regions.

As we approach the two-year anniversary of the project, one wonders why that hasn’t happened. Imagine what would be possible if New York State actually supported cultural tourism networks throughout the state.

4 thoughts on “Promoting NY History Tours: ILoveNY And China

  1. Peter, do you have more information on the becoming China ready series? Would like to attempt to add a couple of sites to the Dutchess County tour.

  2. Peter – NYC councilman Peter Koo is chair of the city council Landmarks Committee. His district in Flushing has 11 landmarks and the largest population of people of Asian descent outside of China. Flushing should be must see on any China tour.

    1. Rosemary,

      As it turns out I received email from three people who conduct China tours in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. I suggested we try to create our own tour not only on China but on immigration in general. Your suggestion of a contact person is an excellent one.

  3. I would like to update you on our Historical Society of Rockland County (HSRC) bus tour of American Revolutionary sites in upstate NY. I found it to be absolutely wonderful, and all our guests comments echoed the sentiment. Every stop was a positive experience: Schuyler Mansion, Van Schaick Home, General Herkimer Home, the Outdoor Drama “Drums along the Mohawk”, dinner and overnight in Little Falls, Nellis Tavern, Fort Klock, Palantine Church, Fort Plain Museum, VanAlstyne House, Old Fort Johnson, lunch at Apple Barrel, Old Stone Fort. The ride thru the countryside was delightful. We must do more, we must continue to plug away on the value of these tours! Although we were worried the trip could not run due to dollars, we were successful in running it “in the black”. Thanks go to Kyle Jenks for planning efforts, to Jeff Tew as guide extraordinaire, and our efficient office staff. HSRC is shortly meeting to plan our 2015 bus trip schedule. We will have local, regional and hopefully upstate trips, as decided in committee. I would be happy to collaborate with other groups on these! The time and effort is worth it.

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