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Officials Hope Industry Gets Back to Normal

Tailwater Lodge in Altmar is expanding; Harborfest is making plans for this summer

Steve Yablonski

COVID-19 pretty much shut down the county’s tourism in 2020.

Bed tax, one of the county’s data measurement tools, was down in 2020 (from 2019, pre-COVID-19).

Dave Turner
Dave Turner

Things have started to improve, county officials said.

As for the number of fishermen visitors last season, the county doesn’t have that data yet. So, it’s still too early to know the results.

However, fishing charter captains were very busy last year. And, the river guides reported a strong year as well.

Some places have an eye on future tourism.

Tailwater Lodge in the town of Albion, for example, is planning to expand this year. They cater mostly to anglers and snowmobilers. However, they are branching out with an events venue and more.

“They will be adding a two-story addition to their existing facility. It will include 21 one- and two-bedroom suites,” according to L. Michael Treadwell, executive director of Operation Oswego County.

Dave Turner, director of the county’s Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning, expects to see a better year ahead for tourism and business growth in general. “Accordingly, we have returned our marketing efforts to pre-pandemic levels in places where those opportunities exist.”

Eva Corradino helped organize and oversaw the Oswego Visitor Center as part of her volunteer position as chairwoman of the city’s promotion and tourism advisory board.

The Oswego Visitor Center opened in August and closed the second week in October last year.

“August through the Labor Day weekend, not surprisingly, had the most visitors.” Corradino said.

During that span, they had people visiting from several areas in New York: Watertown, Rochester, the Southern Tier and New York City to name a few.

Out of state visitors hailed from as far west as: California, Oregon, Nevada, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Travelers also represented Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia and “quite a few from Pennsylvania” as well as other states, Corradino said.

“It seems people were traveling a lot by car, perhaps feeling it safer than flying. Many had done web searches, looking for things drivable from their homes and found Oswego that way; a small town with a lot to offer,” she said.

The lake and river (boating and fishing) and the Oswego Speedway are a big draw. But museums and parks are a draw, also, she added.

The Maritime Museum was not up to pre-pandemic level yet. But its boat tours to the lighthouse were very well attended.

The Oswego County Historical Society’s Richardson-Bates House Museum had a record number of visitors from all over, once they finally opened in July 2021. They didn’t open at all in 2020.

Baseball and softball tournaments brought a lot of families into the Port City, filling local hotels and keeping restaurants busy.

“In my opinion, there was less COVID-19 fear or hesitancy in the summer of 2021,” Corradino said.

One positive sign tourism is picking up in 2022 is Harborfest.

“We have started the planning process for 2022,” said Pete Myles, executive director of Harborfest. “There is not much to share at this time. We are hoping for great attendance!”

Featured image: Oswego River in summer.