By Gina Mintzer, cmp, mha
Living, working, and playing in the Lake George region in 2023 proved to be a remarkable experience. As the world made strides toward returning to pre-pandemic norms, stability saw a resurgence throughout the year. Looking forward to 2024, it’s essential to acknowledge the significant preparations and developments that have transformed Lake George into a winter destination.
Lake George introduced two major winter attractions. The creators of Ice Castles adapted their spectacle to withstand winter conditions, resulting in Winter Realms. Opening at the Festival Commons in Wood Park in November, Winter Realms will enchant visitors until the end of February. Another captivating addition is Winter’s Dream, presented by Moment Factory at Fort William Henry. Launched in December, Winter’s Dream will operate until the end of March. Preliminary results indicate a promising start, attracting over 500 additional visitors daily and providing a welcome boost to local businesses operating during the winter season.
February marks the continuation of the 61st annual Lake George Winter Carnival, a cherished event for both locals and tourists. West and Gore Mountains are geared up for a robust winter season, featuring new equipment and programs to enhance the area’s appeal. With an abundance of winter activities in the region, a strong first quarter is anticipated.
Tourism plays a pivotal role in the regional economy. Ongoing efforts have strengthened collaboration across various sectors of the business community. The vitality of the tourism industry directly impacts the entire community, not just those employed in hospitality. Tourism dollars contribute significantly to offsetting local tax burdens and fostering economic sustainability and growth.
Ongoing collaborative efforts among businesses in the region have led to increased resilience, adaptability, and safety. Emphasizing customer service, the Warren County Department of Workforce Development, the Warren County Tourism Department, SUNY Adirondack, and Lake George Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau (LGRCVB), will work together to evaluate past training offerings and collaborate on future hospitality industry focused training and development, recognizing their importance in sustaining local enterprises.
Other collaborative efforts to assist the hospitality industry include increased investment in data insights to be shared for greater marketing opportunities. Zartico, an online subscription that crowd sources the mobile and credit card data of the Lake George area visitor, allows LGRCVB to empower destination partners to be better stewards of the area through improved data intelligence and decision-making. A series of “edu-seminars” will be offered as well as automated data distribution to all interested businesses.
As the LGRCVB is an extension of the Warren County Tourism Department, another joint effort includes enhanced outreach to bus tour groups and international travelers as these sectors of the tourism business are a focus to bring it back to pre-pandemic levels of visitation.
The Town and Village of Lake George recently secured a $10 million Downtown Revitalization grant from the state earmarked for projects aimed at revitalizing downtown and further boosting tourism. Initiatives include a variety of projects that will have a ripple effect of economic vitality throughout the County. More information regarding the Lake George DRI is available on the website: https://www.lakegeorgedri.com/.
The Taste NY Market at the Adirondacks Welcome Center is operated by the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB. The Center welcomed its one millionth visitor this past year as it entered its fifth year in operation. The high-end vending market features a variety of local and NYS state-produced products. Some perennial favorites are Just Water, Saratoga Water, Coopers Cave sodas, Martha’s Cremewiches, Barkeater Chocolates, Oscar’s cheese spreads and beef jerky, Lake George Baking Company chocolate chip cookies, Mapleland maple products and more. This past year close to $250,000 was spent on products with small business vendors to grow the awareness of their business and product offerings while growing the interest in “Buy Local, Choose NYS” products.