In early July, I was at a local meeting and was speaking to an out-of-state consultant when she mentioned to me that as she was driving to our region from the Albany airport, she heard a Fulton County Tourism Department ad on the radio focusing on our "44 Lakes44 Choices" campaign. She told me how inviting the ad was, and how it would encourage her to return for a visit for pleasure, rather than for business. Coincidentally, just last week, I ran into some folks vacationing here from outside our region, and of course being the "Chamber Guy," I felt compelled to inquire as to what brought them to our region, and again, it was the "44 Lakes" ad that focuses on our natural resources and water features.
Now, you might think that the focus of this article is on the importance of a strong and well-developed marketing campaign for our region, but that will be the subject of a future story. In this article, I want to talk about how important your involvement can be in helping us live up to the promises we make in our advertising. I don't know about you, but I can't tell you how often I have been lured to a place, whether it be a hotel, restaurant, family fun park, cruise line or resort only to be completely disappointed as to what I found when I got there. Our region has some truly beautiful assets for visitors, many of these being our beautiful lakes, the Mohawk River and Erie Canal and unique historic sites.
When it comes to the businesses in our region, it is up to the owners and operators to protect and maintain the integrity of their properties. But what about our beautiful lakes and historic sites? Many of us believe, and rightfully so, that it is the job of state agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Parks and Recreation, to be the sole caretakers of our natural and historic treasures, and they do a great job.
But we, the public, can do more by becoming individually involved as a "private citizen helper" when so many lakes in our state are confronting the devastation causes by invasive species, such as the Spiny Water Flea. At our recent Eggs & Issues Breakfast at the Canada Lake Store, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Canada Lake has yet to be affected by any invasive species, largely due to the Canada Lake Protective Association, a group of private citizens interested in protecting Canada Lake and its homeowners. This group has taken proactive steps to thwart any invaders in their lake by monitoring boats to make sure they're clean before launching, thus helping ensure the lake's water is clean and thriving with fish. Many of our region's lakes have active protective associations, made up of property owners, as well as those who use the lake for recreation. After all, who else could be best to protect something more than those who love it.
Now this "protective instinct" need not be limited to lakes and other natural areas. In our two-county region, we have an abundance of wonderful historic sites and parks, all with their own unique need for preservation and beautification. With state funding always in question, there again is a need for private sector involvement. Many sites have their own support groups, often "Friends of," and they do an admirable job in helping keep a site in great condition for its visitors.
As we continue to successfully market our area to bring the traveling public here, it is absolutely imperative that we make their trip enjoyable and memorable so they return for another visit and speak positively about our area. Why not consider joining a support group of this type?
It may only involve planting some flowers, a little sweeping, stocking fish or helping to monitor a boat launch, but it will make you feel good about yourself, while at the same time, go a long way to ensure our community is a better place for visitors as well as ourselves.
For more information about protective associations, or "friends" groups in our region, please contact the chamber at 725-0641 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Kilmer is the president of the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce.