A number of years ago, then-Assemblyman Chris Ortloff had a kind of unspecific plan to increase tourism in the North Country and began shopping it around to interested and potentially involved parties. It sounded good then, and it still seems worthy of attention now, but, unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten much.
Ortloff was looking at the entire North Country — the area north of Albany to the Canadian border and from Lake Champlain west through the Tri-Lakes — as an integrated tourism area that could promote itself as one huge entity with enough eye catchers to appeal to just about everybody.
You would start with Saratoga and capitalize on its amazing array of tourist attractions, starting, of course, with one of the greatest thoroughbred racing destination on the planet. Saratoga has many other points of interest, of course, including the site of the Battle of Saratoga, Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the National Museum of Dance.
Moving northward, history, scenery and recreation would key any holiday for just about anybody looking for a vacation or a sightseeing excursion.
Fort Ticonderoga has as much historic value as just about any site in the United States. It played a pivotal role in pre-Revolutionary, Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary events and knows very well how to market itself as a tourism asset.
Lake Placid is truly one of the winter sports capitals of the world, the host to two Winter Olympics, in 1932 and 1980. It is a winter sports classic, packed with bobsled, luge, skiing and skating history. Summers provide nearly as much for the sightseer and even more for the sportsman.
Plattsburgh is at last cashing in on its setting on Lake Champlain as well as its role as a centerpiece of the nation’s early history. The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration, going on now, has evolved into a destination history-tourism event and the battle is getting its due with historians, thanks to local lobbying.
In between and all around is evidence to support the claim that, when it comes to history and recreation, the North Country takes second place to no place.
The chambers of commerce in a large part of this region have united to create a stronger lobbying force on issues of concern. Maybe it is time for the whole area north of Albany to pitch itself with a unified “North Country” theme to attract visitors from all over the United States. Spend a few days in each community and soak up all it has to offer before moving on to the next.
Taken together, the sites would be a bigger magnet than any one alone. Share the message, and share the wealth.
The state’s much-copied “I Love New York” theme was a big hit with a huge payoff. The North Country would be well rewarded to focus a message of invitation to the region north of Albany.