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Little talks tourism at Paul Smith's College

State Senator Betty Little organized a discussion on tourism at Paul Smith's College on Monday that served as a kind of regional chamber of commerce meeting.

It brought together business owners and economic development planners from throughout the North Country in an effort to build marketing networks that bring tourism dollars through the doors of area businesses.

"When a tourist comes here you've got to milk it," Little said during the meeting.

One way to shake all the coins out of visitor's pockets is to get businesses to share information about events and activities that go beyond their one business.

"A rising tide floats all boats," Little said.

Other discussions focused on creative ways to get people to visit during the "shoulder seasons," or the slow months before and after the busy summer months.

Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sylvie Nelson said during the gathering that Saranac Lake has been successful in "beefing up" part of its shoulder season with a unique local event called Daffest.

The celebration that includes a lively mix of springtime activities starts this weekend. The event is expected to bring in hundreds of visitors, according to Nelson.

Another common thread during the meeting is the growing number of cycling opportunities in the Park. APA spokesman Keith McKeever talked about a vision for a bike trail in Wilmington designed so that visitors never see a car. Like Zarmatt, Switzerland, the experience is supposed to capitalize on the appeal of traditional, pedestrian oriented communities.

Another take-home message of the meeting was to get area business to register with the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council at www.visitadirondacks.com.

The not-for-profit group is affiliated with the "I Love NY" brand and registering is free. Little said it's part of a plan to market the region as a whole rather than looking at neighbors as competitors.

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