Thoughts on boosting tourism, community character

We experienced a robust weekend in Lake George for Labor Day, and the trend is continuing. Not only are visitors going home with fine memories, but cash registers are chiming.

It's about time.

While many assumed the downturn in tourists early this summer was primarily due to the sluggish national economy, the real drag was the weather - the soggiest in 100 years, we've been told.

And when the sun emerged the past two weeks, the tourists returned in substantial numbers.

Some businesses in Lake George even report an increase over prior years, while others are saying they are still lagging despite the late-season surge in revenue.

This year's uncertain tourism scenario offers us a valuable lesson. Here it is:

The enterprises that continue to upgrade and evolve to meet or exceed tourists' ever-increasing expectations are the ones that are prospering despite economic pressures, and the ones that are simply conducting business as usual are the ones suffering declines.

The same principle is true for communities in general.

Lake George village has done its part this summer by offering their nightly lineup of new events, like "Lake George Has Talent" competition, its "Tuesday Tribute" shows with Elvis and Beatles impersonators on Fridays, and Magical Musical Mondays.

But perhaps the village needs to do more.

Consider the brainstorms of Lake George business owner and town board candidate John Carr.

He's proposed creating a bike trail network through the area connecting natural attractions with business enterprises, one that is likely to attract green and athletically oriented tourists. Such community amenities are vital. Those municipalities offering active family-oriented pursuits are the ones that are now attracting tourists in ever-greater numbers. Passive pursuits are passe.

Also, he's proposed establishing a restaurant district in town that has a distinctive, charming streetscape and ambiance, perhaps with some festive lighting, curvy bricked walkways, intriguing public artworks or seating areas.

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