It received the Award of Excellence in Overall Tourism Marketing by a Private Sector Entity.
By Steve Yablonski
One of New York State’s newest tourism websites, www.discoverupstateny.com, was recognized at the New York State Tourism Industry Association awards ceremony on May 6.
It was cited for its “vigorous and committed efforts in keeping tourism alive by alerting, updating and advising visitors about restrictions of the pandemic, from its lockdown to reopening.”
Discover Upstate NY received the Award of Excellence in Overall Tourism Marketing by a Private Sector Entity.
The website features more than 2,900 attractions including hundreds of restaurants, hotels, tourism attractions and historical sites. It focuses on family fun and adventure tourism throughout the cities and regions of Upstate New York, West of the Hudson River.
“DUNY and our dedicated team of writers, graphic designers, technical advisors, photographers, social media experts and editors are honored and thrilled to receive this prestigious award from such a distinguished tourism association as NYSTIA,” said David Granoff, of Oswego, the chief editor, administrator and visionary of DUNY. “We’ve worked hard to bring awareness to the many fantastic attractions and opportunities that are available to travelers, and our website, maps and social media platforms provide comprehensive and useful resources for visitors of all ages to enjoy the beauty, excitement and fun that the Great State of New York has to offer.”
Granoff’s team includes content editor and writer Debra Lupien Denny of North Syracuse; social media expert Charmaine Daniels of Albany; blog writer Theresa Farrell of Cohoes; and graphic designers and web specialists Keith Calveric and Andrew Pushlar of KCNY Design, Syracuse.
The 2021 New York State Tourism Excellence Awards acknowledged the work done in crisis conditions during the 2020 pandemic year. Destination marketing organizations, museums, attractions and other tourism related businesses gathered virtually to honor the efforts of their peers.
“DUNY has been around about four years. It started as a much smaller project, featuring the towns along Lake Ontario and grew by demand to include all nine tourism regions west of the Hudson River including 56+ featured cities and towns throughout the state” explained Granoff. “At the height of the pandemic, the site received nearly two million views, and our social media platforms exploded, including more than 26,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook.”
DUNY doesn’t offer travel packages per se, he added.
“We let the individual attractions do that. But, we assist travelers with awareness of what’s available, interactive maps to plan their visits, and tons of ideas,” he said.
Tourism in general was very difficult for both establishments and the tourists alike for all attractions, including hotels, wineries, eateries and places to visit like museums, Granoff said.
COVID-19 presented a disproportionate challenge to the tourism industry.
At the height of the pandemic, Upstate tourism was at a low point and hotels, wineries, eateries and museums were mostly closed. Dependent businesses, like restaurants, were among the most severely affected by COVID restrictions and some of them did not survive.
“Whenever possible, we let the public know what was open and what was not and urged visitors to ‘check individual establishment websites’ for additional info. We included a bunch of informational narratives that informed travelers what to expect and how to stay safe and healthy,” Granoff said.
The editors at DUNY are busy publishing re-openings and posting announcements about upcoming festivals and community-related activities onto an events calendar that is updated daily.
“We’ve seen an amazing resurgence of people’s interest in Upstate tourism, which bodes well for the year ahead,” Granoff said.
The awards program was presented as a webcast from the New York State Museum co-hosted by Ross Levi, vice president / executive director of tourism at Empire State Development / NYS Division of Tourism and Josiah Brown, board chair of the New York State Tourism Industry Association.
The awards are juried by an impartial panel of industry experts under the auspices of the New York State Tourism Industry Association. Nominations were up 250% versus 2019 and the judges were challenged by both the volume and the caliber of the entries.
“Before, during the pandemic, and now we concentrate on featuring updated attractions (all 2,900) and add informational narratives that tell travelers what to expect and how to stay safe and healthy,” Granoff said.
“We added a bunch of narrative lines as the lockdown went along as public service announcements during the height of the pandemic; informing tourists and travelers what they could and could NOT do in New York State,” he added.
They closely followed the approved New York State guidelines recommended by the U.S. Travel Association and New York Tourism Industry Association, both of which they are a member, for these announcements.
Now that things are lifting, they have changed the narratives as well, and are constantly updating content to remove permanent closures, updating delayed opening and making announcements about festivals, activities, dining establishments and more, with an events calendar that has the latest daily activities.
Www.DiscoverUpstateNY.com promotes a diverse variety of tourism opportunities for enthusiasts both near and far. The site presents more than 2,900+ tourism attractions, a robust event calendar, blog posts and interactive map of all nine tourism regions of Upstate New York, west of the Hudson River. Focusing heavily on family fun, the site promotes a wide list of ever-growing categories and appeals to persons of all ages and interests.
DUNY also features dozens of lesser-known activities such as zip-lining, boat tours, hiking and biking along the Erie Canal, wine-tasting and culinary tours throughout the state.
About New York State Tourism Industry Association:
The New York State Tourism Industry Association advances economic growth, job creation, community revitalization, quality of life and pride of place by realizing the potential of New York State’s tourism industry and facilitating the success of its members. It serves New York State’s tourism industry through collaborative initiatives, research, legislative awareness and exceptional marketing.