St. Lawrence County’s golf courses, cycling, wineries and more draw tourists

Brooke E. Rouse, director of St. Lawrence County’s Chamber of Commerce, and Joseph R. Goliber, visitor center manager, pose with copies of the agency’s visitor’s guide and angler’s guide at their Canton office. Photo by Susan Mende, Watertown Daily Times.

Brooke E. Rouse, director of St. Lawrence County’s Chamber of Commerce, and Joseph R. Goliber, visitor center manager, pose with copies of the agency’s visitor’s guide and angler’s guide at their Canton office. Photo by Susan Mende, Watertown Daily Times.

Boxes filled with 3,000 copies of the 47-page St. Lawrence County Chamber’s Visitor Guide headed across the border Wednesday for the Ottawa and Kingston areas to showcase golf, cycling, fishing and other recreational opportunities that continue to attract people to the rural north country.

The county chamber launched a new website Oct. 1 and has been using a targeted marketing approach to reach audiences with specific interests such as fishing, local wine tours, golfing, camping and nature-oriented activities.

“We’ve really tried to look at who are we targeting and what are we targeting in order to be a little bit more strategic about where we place our dollars to get the return we want,” said County Chamber Director Brooke E. Rouse. “The goal is to not market everything to everybody.”

Mrs. Rouse gave an update on her agency’s activities to county legislators during their Monday night meeting.

Giving an example, she said the county’s wineries and new wine trail have a strong following from Pennsylvania residents including many who come to the north country to camp along the St. Lawrence River near Hammond, Massena, Ogdensburg and other communities.

“There’s a trend of Pennsylvanians coming, especially to the river for camping and then the camping culture also tends to also be interested in the wine trails. The incredible campsites we have along the river is especially what’s attracting them.”

Despite the downturn in the value of the Canadian dollar, she said her agency is continuing a strong marketing effort across the border because of the population density in Ottawa and Montreal combined with communities directly across the border.

“We feel it’s still a huge market. It’s the closest, largest market,” she said.

The chamber has launched a campaign to market golfing packages to Canadians who pay much higher prices at home.

“You can golf, rent a cart and eat a meal for $100 Canadian. That is a good deal for them,” she said.

Cycling is another activity that draws many Canadians into the county during the warmer months, she said.

The area’s fishing opportunities draw many tourists from Western New York, Pennsylvania and the metro New York City area. Information about fishing, including tournaments, can be accessed on the website FISHCAP.net

Besides the visitor’s guide the county chamber publishes an angler’s guide and a waterfalls guide which are distributed at numerous venues on both sides of the border. They are also available at the chamber’s office at 101 Main St.

The chamber’s new website, www.NorthCountryGuide.com, has received 33,190 hits since it was launched Oct. 1, with 73 percent of the users from New York state, Mrs. Rouse said.

Information for tourists, such as lodging, restaurants, events and restaurants can also be accessed in the chamber’s mobile app by searching St. Lawrence County. The chamber also has a Facebook site.

Mrs. Rouse said the key to developing the county as a destination place is offering a variety of lodging options, restaurants, attractions, retail choices, transportation, and infrastructure such as Wi-Fi and cell phone service, sidewalks, paths and boat launches. She said visitors also need accessible information about how to get around, where to eat, shop and explore.

Mrs. Rouse said the county needs to have more resources for tourists such as boat rentals, fishing and hiking guides, tour companies and lodging packages to ensure that people have a way to spend their dollars when they visit destinations in St. Lawrence County.

“That is when the destination will truly realize an economic impact from tourism,” she said.

By Susan Mende, Watertown Daily Times