Onondaga County’s official tourism promotion agency didn’t have to go far to find its next leader. Outgoing county legislator and former East Syracuse Mayor Danny Liedka will be the next president and CEO of Visit Syracuse.
Liedka says he had his eye on the job when David Holder stepped down in June.
“It’s a position that I’ve always admired and tried to build my career towards and when it came open, at that point I put my hat in the ring to go through the search process.”
The East Syracuse Native brings 25 years of experience in the hospitality business, most recently as a senior level sales executive with Marriott international. Liedka says he wants to “charge-up” the already capable sales team at Visit Syracuse to compete with Buffalo, Rochester, and others in the northeast.
“They probably got three and four times that amount of assets that we have to market their products. So that’s one thing that we’re up against, but I’ll take that team that we have and their work ethic and I’ll make the difference with those folks. We’ll make the case in the future to try and get more money from our elected officials, but first we’ll have to prove ourselves.”
Liedka is a three-term lawmaker who knows what the county executive and legislature are looking for as the agency's primary funder. Outside the region, he knows the perception might surround its, shall we say, seasonal diversity.
“And I actually don’t see that as an obstacle. I think if we market that correctly. Not just winter but all four seasons, how diverse we are here. I think that has something that’ll appeal to everyone and that’s really how we have to play this. I think when people hear of Syracuse outside the area they either think of the University or how much snow we get. Well we gotta change that perception that we’re more than that.”
Liedka says the area has to capitalize on the tens of thousands of fans who stop in for a Syracuse football or basketball game.
“They’re usually here for one night, they go to the game and they leave. My goal is, ‘What do we gotta do to make them stay two and three nights to experience everything this entire area has to offer?’ Not just Syracuse, but the rest of the county and our surrounding assets as well. There’s a lot to offer here.”
Liedka takes his new post in a little over two weeks. His term on the legislature wraps up at year’s end.