Bringing people to Broome

By Jillian Marshall

May 22, 2014 Updated May 22, 2014 at 6:53 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) You may not see the advertisements, but tourism in Broome County generates more than $20 million a year.

"Our motto is 'we want to put heads in beds,'" said President of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce Lou Santoni. "We want people to spend the night, because if they spend the night they are going to spend a lot more money."

To do that, Santoni said the county targets its marketing to attract conventions, sporting events and concerts.

It also puts together get-away packages. The county's package for golf includes the four local courses plus lodging.

"Believe it or not, we hosted last year over 5,000 rounds of golf and we booked over 2,000 hotel rooms from people coming outside of the area to take advantage of our wonderful golf courses," Santoni said.

Santoni said the county spends the least on advertising for the golf packages, about $15,000 a year. However, it is the biggest return, bringing in more than $1 million a year.

Two events that draw in the biggest crowds are the Dick's Sporting Goods Open and the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally.

"There's only 24 other cities that can say 'we have a professional golf tournament on the Champions Tour' in their communities and Endicott, New York is one of those," said David Pessagno, Dick's Sporting Goods Open Coordinator.

Pessagno said the multi-day events have turned into vacations for some. The events also boost the local economy, especially for restaurants and hotels in downtown Binghamton.

"The more business that we do, the better off that the local merchants are going to do as well," said General Manager of The Double Tree Bud Nolan.

Santoni said the county is attempting to take tourism by storm with a new mobile website called 81exits.com.

The website takes your exact location and tells you the nearest restaurants, shops, gas stations and more.

"Whatever you would like to do, you could actually pick it up off of your phone and find out what's exactly at each rest area or each stop along the way," Santoni said.

Although new technology is expanding tourism and making it easier for travelers, Santoni said Broome is still missing one thing.

"The casino would give us something that we've never had, and that's a destination," Santoni said.

President Obama visited Cooperstown on Thursday to discuss national and international tourism. In light of the visit and remarks on the importance of tourism, WBNG-TV is airing a special report on Friday.

The special 'President Promotes Tourism: The Local Impact' will take a deeper look into Obama's focus on tourism in the U.S. and how New York and its counties are stepping up promotions.

It will air on Friday, May 23 at 7:00 p.m.

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