ROOST is planning bid to take over Hamilton County tourism marketing

By LOHR McKINSTRY

Special to the Express

ELIZABETHTOWN - The vacuum created by the departure of Hamilton County Tourism Director Ann Melious could be filled by the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.

Essex County lawmakers tentatively agreed Monday, Oct. 28, to support a possible takeover of Hamilton County tourism marketing by the Lake Placid-based Office of Sustainable Tourism, commonly called ROOST.

ROOST already receives more than $1 million annually from the Essex County occupancy tax that it uses to advertise Essex County to visitors.

ROOST President and Chief Executive Officer James McKenna sought the approval of the Essex County Board of Supervisors before proceeding further with a bid to do the same for Hamilton County.

McKenna said the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors issued a request for proposals for tourism promotion with an annual budget of $250,000. Hamilton County does not have an occupancy tax.

"It would be a good thing to respond to," McKenna said. "My board wanted to get a good response from [Essex County] before looking at it."

He said they already work with some towns in Hamilton County on promotions.

"For some of our towns bordering Hamilton County, it would be a natural," he said. "There seems to be more movement that tourism doesn't recognize county boundaries."

McKenna said some questions have come up as to whether ROOST has the capacity to add Hamilton County, and he estimates they would have to hire one or two more people to do so.

That staff would be at ROOST's Lake Placid offices, he said, not at the Hamilton County government complex in Lake Pleasant where Melious was based.

ESSEX CO. BACKS IDEA

The Essex County Board of Supervisors Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously Oct. 28 to support a proposal from ROOST for handling Hamilton County's advertising and promotion.

Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah), who chaired the Ways and Means session, said he fully supports the concept of ROOST doing the marketing for Hamilton County. "I think it's a move in the right direction. We should take a regional approach."

SYNERGY EXPECTED

McKenna said he agrees. "Some of the messages we put up now would be the same message everywhere," McKenna said. "It would really add more, rather than detract."

The addition of Hamilton County would be at no cost to Essex County, Scozzafava said. "The feeling is that what's good for Hamilton County is good for Essex County. It would be more continuity."

This autumn season has been good for tourism in general in the Adirondacks, McKenna said. "The weather's been positive this fall. People are traveling more."

Essex and Hamilton are the only two counties wholly within the Adirondack Park.