Monday, June 15, 2015

Pay attention to canal tourism

Our canal boat. (c) DKassnoff, 2012.
A couple of years ago, I rented a boat and cruised for a few days on the Erie Canal. Some of the communities we saw on our voyage were charming. Others offered all the allure of a miniature Rust Belt refinery.

There's more to the Erie Canal than most people realize. Communities like Fairport and Brockport in upstate New York have built substantial attractions around the canal. Others have more modest setups: a small park or a boat launch.

But if your community has invested anything in its waterfront in hopes of drawing tourism, you'd be wise to tell someone about it.

Here's an example:

This is what has to say about things to do in Newark, New York:

Even at full size, it doesn't say much. There was a movie theatre, but it apparently closed in 2014. And nothing else.

When I visited on my voyage, however, here's what I found:

A comfortable, clean canalside park with moorings, free WiFi, and a laundry facility. Short walking distance to a few cozy restaurants, a charming public library with a remarkable museum devoted to clocks, and another museum run by the local historical society. Friendly people.

It was a relaxing place to spend a couple of days on the water. My son, an emerging filmmaker, shot a film parodying scenes from Apocalypse Now, and we had fun.

Newark's not everyone's idea of a getaway destination. But you wouldn't need to expend many hours of energy to post information about the town's charms on TripAdvisor or other travel and tourism web sites. Portions of Wayne County's tourism website haven't been updated since 2014. A little basic public relations effort would go a long way.

And overlooking websites like TripAdvisor is a big missed opportunity.