Fridsay, August 10, 2018

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Orange County fast becoming tourism destination, officials say

From left,  Heather Hawley, president of Independent Helicopters at
Stewart; Phil Royle from Legoland New York; Orange County Economic
Development Director William Fioravanti; Woodbury Common Manager
Dave Mistretta; County Executive Steven Neuhaus

CENTRAL VALLEY – Orange County officials and business leaders are expecting serious growth in tourism within the county over the next couple of years, effectively turning the county and surrounding region into a tourism corridor.               

An economic development panel, speaking at an Orange County Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Central Valley on Thursday, said the boom in tourism businesses – craft foods, entertainment and international travel – are putting the county in a position for expedient growth.

County Executive Steven Neuhaus said the tourism sector is becoming so strong that the county will begin jumping in head first to brand itself as a tourism destination.

“We bring in over $3 million a year on just the hotel/motel tax every year and prior to me getting in office, we only spent a small fraction of that on tourism,” Neuhaus noted. “Now, we’re getting towards an area where we’re going to spend a large part of that money and I think, eventually, we should be spend the entire amount on tourism where it came from. So, I think we’re moving in that direction, and we need to be.”

Legoland New York, being one of such companies on the county’s tourism forefront, is expecting to bring in millions of new visitors and thousands of jobs in less than 600 days, said Legoland New York’s Director of Development Phil Royle.

“These aren’t projections, these are confirmed numbers that are going to be coming to this area,” said Royle. “We will deliver an attendance at Legoland New York of about two million a year. You add that into what’s coming into Sullivan County with the casino – they’re going to take about four million a year; you add all of those things in, you add in the jobs that are coming into these businesses; we have to have 1,300 people that are going work for us. That will get us to 4,000 [jobs] overall and that will get us to the 6.7 million [visitors] in about two year’s time.”

With the growth of tourist, business leaders are concerned about the county being able to handle it. The panel said the business community, as a whole, will have to be proactive when it comes to finding efficient ways to work with red-tape surrounding development, having enough hotel space for visitors, enough housing for the growing workforce and improved technological infrastructure to deal with the fast-paced economy.  


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