Franklin County launches plans to boost tourism

Published on : Saturday, March 26, 2022

The director of the Office of Economic Development and Tourism, Phil Hans and county officials, Donald Dabiew and Lindy Ellis, spoke in-depth about the plans for the 2022 Destination Marketing Plan.

Ellis is the chair of Economic Development Agency and also the legislator of county district 7 and Dabiew is the chair of the board of Legislators.

Tourism investments in the multi-faceted 2022 Destination Marketing Plan — under the Office of Economic Development and Tourism and the county Tourism Advisory Committee — were able to secure a large increase in budget.

“We have increased appropriations by 50% at no cost to the local tax payer. This is all through occupancy tax and all through visitors who are coming here (to Franklin County) and staying here,” Hans said. “Lindy is always preaching that this is not just to bolster the economy, but to improve the lives of those who live here.”

“And to help our families and extend the economic benefits,” Ellis said.

This ambitious plan has garnered the attention of officials in neighbouring counties, according to Hans, from which he has received questions of how they can implement such a plan.

“I think that both Dabiew and Ellis want to make this year a year of transformation for Franklin County and how are we going to do that? They made it clear to TAC that we want to be supportive of local businesses and want to develop infrastructure,” Hans said. “So, they appropriated $420,000 into our tourism grant programs, which is direct financial support of our local businesses, organizations, chambers, anybody that has any hand in tourism and attraction of visitors.”

According to information released on the county website, two of the four grant programs require a 50% match from the awardee, which in effect doubles the investment.

“A couple of the programs are matching funds type scenario, where we are going to award good chunks of money, but we are going to double our investment by having the businesses, organizations, nonprofits, etc. match whatever we are investing as well so that $420k is almost double,” Hans said. “There are a few programs — because I know that it was very strongly heard that we do not leave out the small guy — that offer financial aid to (groups) that either don’t have a budget to market or that it is not their area of expertise because really they are the cornerstone of our tourism industry.”

Hans said that the Destination Cooperative Marketing Program — one of the Destination Management Programs offered by the Office of Economic Development and Tourism — will not be match-based.

It will award small, local businesses funds for whatever marketing tactics the businesses choose while also marketing the ‘Explore Adirondack Frontier’ brand.

For more information on Destination Management Programs and how to apply for funding, visit the Economic Development section on the county website at

The Explore Adirondack Frontier brand is a marketing strategy that unifies Franklin County as a whole under a common theme and according to Hans, it is relatively new.

“It hasn’t been quite a full year yet actually,” Hans said. “Last year, it was a matter of developing the brand, getting the website ready — which will be launching in less than a month now — and we are finally at a point where we can actually move forward with strongly promoting that brand because I think that you’d agree that promoting the entire region under Explore Adirondack Frontier is to going to have a lot more of a punch. We are building a story of everything that is here in Franklin County.”

Leisure Travel Marketing, under this unified brand, will focus on providing visitors outdoor recreational activities across all four seasons with goal of building brand awareness and gaining both extended stays and new visitations within the region.

According to the marketing plan, tourism in the winter season has undergone significant improvements and is aimed to be improved even further with the $355,000 invested this year towards new trail development under the plan.
“The Tug Hill area is known for snowmobiling, and I’ve seen on Facebook that there has been some friendly banter back and forth between that region and up here. I thinking that they are feeling a little heat, a little competition now, which is crazy think about how Franklin County is starting to compete with an area that has been developed. It’s only going to get better this year,” Hans said.

Ellis said that $70,000 is invested into trail improvements.

“The $70,000 is going to all the different clubs who do all the work because it is all volunteer work done on those (current trails),” Dabiew said. “There is nobody paid that does that work.”

The cross-county trails are multi-purpose for use across all four seasons, not just for snowmobiles.

An interactive biking map will be available on the Explore Adirondack Frontier website once the trail planning and development has been completed. The map will feature “must-visit” locations across the county that visitors and residents can map out a route.

“As we develop this trail infrastructure, there are existing trails that may augment some other trails. It will again build more economic drive and expand the shops that exist here,” Ellis said.

Another major part in the plan for this year is actual promotion through the county office with a budget of $225,000.
According to the plan, various marketing avenues will be used to promote travel and overnight visitation to the region under the Explore Adirondack Frontier brand with the goal of reaching a greater, yet targeted audience.

Avenues such as a greater social media presence and travel shows will be utilized in the plan.

As advocated for by Ellis and Legislator Paul Maroun, $50,000 each was appropriated to the communities of Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake for their marketing purposes.

Starting this year under the marketing budget, the first installment of welcome signs will be installed at different major county entry points. As stated in the plan, collateral and signs will be a multi-year focus with the TAC and the Office of Economic Development and Tourism to procure additional signs for displaying at events and trade shows.

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