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First-ever New York State Tourism Summit held in Albany

By ALLISON NORLIAN

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - What could bring a ton of money and more jobs to New York State? According to Governor Cuomo Wednesday at the State Capital, the answer is a tourism initiative.

The first-ever tourism summit was held Wednesday in Albany.

Governor Cuomo hosted the event, which was attended by senators, legislatures and hundreds of tourism professionals. They all came together to collaborate on ideas about how they can increase the amount of tourism in the state and market themselves better, both nationally and internationally.

Officials say that for every 33 tourists in New York State, one job is created locally, something the Governor says he hopes to build upon.

Some main points he focused on was branding New York, pushing for county collaboration and if nothing else, giving the tourism leaders in every sector a chance to network.

Governor Cuomo said tourism is New York State's fifth-largest industry and in order to reach more people, he wants to change the state's strategy to a regional focus.

Renee Scialdo Shevat, owner of Gems Along the Mohawk in Herkimer and the Herkimer Diamond KOA, believes that if the effort were made regional, it would have a real effect on her business.

"New York. Two words. The greatest brand that there is," she said. "Now if we can educate the folks coming into metropolitan New York that it has the brand that also includes upstate products and services, attractions, geologic, geographic, cultural...everything from diamonds to beer. If we give them a little taste of all there is and get them to appreciate New York, then they will go back and tell others."

Cuomo and tourism leaders say they believe creating a regional identity will create more jobs within the area.

Bill Michaels of the Cooperstown Beverage Trail and Fly Creek Cider Mill said if New York State saw more tourism, he would be able to hire more people.

"Well I have to tell you, at the Cider Mill, if I get more tourists and visitors, I am going to have to take on more staff," Michaels said.

New York City gets 50 million international tourists a year while the rest of the state gets 20 million.

The defining purpose of Wednesday's summit was to figure out initiatives to increase the number of tourists who come to the Empire State in Albany.

$10 million has been set aside by the governor for this project along with the grant program that is already in place.

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