Since my blog started, I've written (more than once) about the need to attract tourists to our area, and how other cities I've visited do it.
Upstate NY gets no respect. When people think "New York" they think New York City. Not that New York City doesn't have a ton of things to do, but 98% of New York State is NOT New York City. No disrespect meant. We don't have world class museums, the Statue of Liberty or skyscrapers. We do have fall foliage, pumpkins, bountiful harvests of apples, apple cider, candied apples, pears, the last of the sweet corn, the 3rd largest library booksale in the country, mountains, scenery that can't be beat, Cornell, cheese, ice cream.
I wonder if peoples' perception of upstate NY is about to change....because of our flood.
People from all over the country have converged on upstate NY (and Vermont and New Jersey - let's not forget about them) to help with the cleanup. I need to point out that our flood stricken community is only one of many. And right now, we are hosting a lot of out of towners.
One such group was the crew from Servpro who showed up earlier this month to help with our basement. They were from Bangor, Maine. And when the crew chief met with us to go over the costs and services, and we got the business talk out of the way, he said something very interesting.
"I didn't think New York was like this at all. It's beautiful country here!" (and yes, he admitted he thought the entire state was one huge extension of the NYC metropolitan area).
I don't know how many out of town workers are in this area. Our FEMA inspector was from Michigan. Our homeowners insurance adjuster (who finally made it out yesterday) was from Louisiana. We have all the major cleanup companies out here and they have mobilized crews from all over the Northeast. We have the specialists who are cleaning up the BAE Industries plant (they are hiring local but there a lot of specialists from elsewhere). There were the firemen who were pumping basements in our neighborhood on September 11. The Salvation Army was in our neighborhood. The Red Cross has been many places. The list is long.
Each of them is seeing Binghamton and its people on display. I hope they are being favorably impressed, because each of these people are unintentional tourists. They are staying (some of them) in our homes, eating in our restaurants, driving our streets. In a moment of rest, perhaps they are looking at our trees, which are starting to turn color. They are certainly interacting with our people.
And who knows - maybe some of them are calling home and telling their families "Hey, this upstate NY is really pretty. The people are wonderful. We should come back and visit one day!"
We can only hope.