The Cayuga County Office of Tourism is the designated tourism promotion agency for Cayuga County and as such is responsible for promoting the county’s attractions, events and lodging establishments.
To accomplish this, we develop different campaigns and partnerships, and we align them with potential visitors. 2022 was a memorable year for tourism in our region — let me take you through a very high-level review of the efforts that we took to position Cayuga County as a premier vacation destination.
Biggest news of 2022
• 2022 was Harriet Tubman’s bicentennial year, and we were fortunate to establish many amazing partnerships, including Auburn’s Historic & Cultural Sites Commission, the Harriet Tubman Boosters, Girl Trek, the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom, Whetstone Media and many more. As Harriet Tubman’s chosen hometown, this positioning and these partnerships will continue in years to come and will strengthen our appeal as an ideal destination.
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• The Inns of Aurora ranked as top hotel in New York state by Travel & Leisure! With its five unique inns offering personalized attention, world class food and an immersive spa experience, the Inns of Aurora has excelled at offering a boutique destination to enjoy year-round.
• Brave Brews Festival: The inaugural festival celebrating women in the craft beverage industry will only have bigger and better things planned for 2023!
Major tourism trends in 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic left a significant impact on the tourism industry, after totally paralyzing movement worldwide to slowly reopening. We have seen some new trends arise:
• The rise of the workcation: Almost everyone had to incorporate some virtual work policy during the pandemic, and most of those are still in place. Cayuga County has over 200 short-term rentals, which offer a great diversity of location and style of home rental for the many looking for a place to temporarily work away from home.
• Reunion travel: Many families, groups and businesses continue to seek out ways to reconnect in person. We continue to work with group tour agencies to position the many wonderful spaces in our county.
• Wide open spaces: Visitors continue to seek out wide-open spaces, natural landscapes and a sense of expansiveness, which we have in the majestic setting between our many lakes.
County marketing campaigns
• Launching our fourth year of “Hibercation: Part hibernation, part vacation, 100% good for the soul.” This campaign has gained much support over the years and this year, besides numerous great lodging specials, it has a record number of retailers offering specials to enjoy this holiday season.
• Brave Women FLX is also back for its fourth year with a fun quiz to find our Brave Woman “kindred spirit” and continuing to support women-owned businesses in our region.
• Unplan: Our fall getaway program started to encourage last-minute travel plans during the pandemic, but has continued to resonate with so many people that the campaign continues strong.
• Treasures Along the Erie Canal: This fun and collaborative campaign highlights the beautiful and impactful region of the Erie Canal from Cayuga Lake to Howland Island to Port Byron, where we have some impressive experiences to promote.
On a more personal note
• We welcomed a new staff member, Dolores Jorgensen, our new office manager. Dolores has brought a fresh perspective and inquisitive nature that keeps us all on our toes. Her love for our county and the many family-friendly and fun things to see and do are inspiring.
• Claire Dunlap, our amazing sales and marketing manager, became a new mom and keeps us all filled with giddy happiness as she shares the adventures of her energetic and smiley newborn.
• Our tourism ambassadors are part of our extended family and a critical part of telling the inside story. From our residents to our visitors, our tourism ambassadors offer a special perspective of what it’s like to live in and enjoy Cayuga County. We would love to hear from you too!
We continuously work to increase tourism and improve the visitor experience, which in turn stimulates economic growth and sustains recreational and cultural opportunities in the county. We’re able to do all of this with the support and guidance of an amazing board of directors. We’re looking forward to a strong and busy 2023 season as we continue to work with all our tourism partners in the county telling the inspiring stories that make us a premier destination to live and visit.
Karen Kuhl is executive director of the Cayuga County Office of Tourism and can be reached at [email protected]. The office is the designated tourism promotion agency for Cayuga County and promotes the county’s attractions, events and lodging establishments. For more information, visit tourcayuga.com.