By: Andreas Weissenborn, Destinations International
This past week, we were invited to speak at the New York State Tourism Industry Association (NYSTIA) conference in White Plains, New York. State and province annual conferences are one of my favorites to attend as they allow us to present our work to a broad spectrum of tourism stakeholders, with all of them being local to the hosting state or province. Many who attend do not usually attend our events and the state/province conference may be the only tourism-related event they attend all year. Not only is this a tremendous honor for us to be asked to present but it is also humbling knowing many of the attendees take the education they see during the conference and right into the field the next day. It is as close to farm-to-table as we can get in the destination promotion lifecycle in our lines of work.
New York state is special because it covers a large cross-section of the tourism industry. In addition to having a border with another country, you also have both dense urban cities, rural landscapes, waterfronts, forests, and everything in between. Equally, it allows many to be part of the stewardship of the brand of New York from whiskey maker to ferry operator; the sky is the limit. The theme for NYSTIA’s spring conference was “Transformational Tourism Stewardship: Strategies & Implementation” and much of the content was billed around helping all in the New York tourism landscape adopt the role of destination steward. Our contribution this year was talking through the times we’re currently living in (illogical times) and how to position our work and our worth to ensure both are heard and valued.
In addition to walking through our values, our tourism lexicon, and becoming a community shared value, I spent a portion of my presentation learning the values of the audience and the destination itself, in this case New York. A lot of these values you can gather and hear through the hallways, during networking breaks and amongst other presentations. New Yorkers are a resilient community. They have been through tough times and have always been able to rally around a cause and for tourism, for the common good for the greater good. Hearing stories about how an attraction pivoted through the pandemic, a wine and spirits vendor adopting a new business model, or even a local destination organization adjusting to the next normal to come through the other side better than before. Values are important at every level; they help us articulate our work into positive worth and reverberate it! When I asked a group of New Yorkers the values they thought represented their state, they of course abundantly shared. Thank you again NYSTIA for the opportunity.