Both Destiny USA and state fairgrounds events ended 2017 with sharp increases in the number of visitors over the previous year. Tourism officials credit targeted marketing efforts and venue improvements.
Destiny saw a 46 percent increase in motor coach arrivals last year, buses mostly filled with visitors from Canada and 28 other countries. Vice president of Visit Syracuse Carol Eaton says they’ve been partnering with Destiny to market the dining, shopping, and entertainment venue at numerous trade shows in Canada, and down in New York City where most international visitors arrive. After seeing the Big Apple, they’re ready to head to Niagara Falls…but not without stopping here on the way.
"We're able to convince them that they should not to make that trip in one day because there's so much to see throughout upstate and Central New York. We work with tour operators to put together itineraries that include a multi-day stop here in Central New York, the Finger lakes, and Syracuse area."
Eaton says they also work with the region’s many hotels which offer lucrative packages to international travelers.
"Many of them bundle their experience with attractions, including Destiny, as well as our downtown and neighboring county attractions."
Those can range from skiing in Cortland county and fishing in Oswego county, to the rich history of the Underground Railroad in Cayuga County.
Events at the state fairgrounds other than the fair also drew much larger crowds last year…57 percent more over 2016 to an estimated 832,000. Eaton says the Syracuse nationals, various RV and boat shows, and collector events continue to grow. She says the new 136,000 square foot Expo Center will elevate popular equine events.
"Equine enthusiasts already like Syracuse and Central New York. When we raise the bar with the Expo Center, we're very excited about how that's going to grow."
The Expo Center will also be equipped to host heavy equipment shows…and events that no other venue locally or within 300 miles will be able to accommodate.