President’s Cooperstown visit, tourism plan praised by officials

Many elected and tourism officials said President Barack Obama’s visit to Cooperstown on Thursday will benefit local tourism, and his plan to decrease the time of international travel would allow more tourists to come to the state.

“New York state has so much to offer in tourism and it is a wonderful, clean economic development industry,” state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna said.

On Thursday, Obama signed a presidential memorandum giving his administration four months to develop a plan to streamline the entry process for international tourists and reduce wait times.

Farley said it would be a “good thing” to decrease the wait time and would allow more people to visit places in upstate New York like the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, where Obama spoke Thursday.

Farley said many international countries have stronger economies and currency, so visitors spending their money across the state could bring large amounts of revenue to local merchants in tourist-dependent areas.

State Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-Newport, said he would be cautious about streamlining the process too much, because one person with bad intentions could have devastating effects.

“With the threats of terrorism in the world we live in today, it sounds like a great concept, but if one person with harmful intentions slips through, the whole motion doesn’t make sense,” Butler said.

But Butler said he believes the president’s visit will benefit the state because it promoted what the upstate community has to offer to tourists already living in the United States.

“I think the attention it brings to Cooperstown, and the region in general, is a positive,” Butler said. “It makes people aware. and hopefully, people will be reminded of what we have to offer.”

Fulton County Tourism Director Gina DaBiere-Gibbs agreed Obama’s visit could serve as a boost in tourism for those already living in the U.S.

“It benefits upstate New York because it brings a focus to our region and area for people from New York City, New England and various places around the United States, because him being here gets national coverage,” DaBiere-Gibbs said.

She agreed that tourism is an important economic-development industry across the state and country.

She said this region already has tourists coming from all over the world, including Canada, Israel and Germany, to visit the Adirondacks. Speeding up their entry to the country, as Obama has proposed, would be a benefit to the revenue tourism provides, she said.

“Certain international markets really enjoy the outdoors, and a lot of them are coming through for the Adirondacks, and that is great for our region,” she said.