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Official: NY to focus on tourism ads over business promotion

The CEO of Empire State Development, the state’s primary business aid agency, will “prioritize tourism promotion.”

New York State will focus on ads that

New York State will focus on ads that tout tourist attractions, such as the I Love NY tourism promotions, which helped boost the number of tourists visiting the state. Photo Credit: Empire State Development

New York State will likely shift the focus of its advertising this year, giving more weight to ads that tout tourist attractions, and less to those that promote the advantages of doing business in the state, a top official said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed $44.5 million for television commercials, ads and other marketing in the state fiscal year beginning April 1.

The request, which must be agreed to by the State Legislature, is $10 million less than what was spent in the 12 months ended March 31, 2017, according to a new report from Empire State Development, the agency that oversees the state’s ad campaigns.

The campaigns include the I Love NY tourism promotions.

ESD CEO Howard Zemsky said recently the agency must alter its ad spending because of a looming state budget deficit and Cuomo’s requirement that state expenditures increase by 2 percent or less each year.

“With the economy at near full employment and the tourism industry firing on all cylinders, we’re going to prioritize tourism promotion and tourism investment,” he said in an interview.

ESD’s tourism spots frequently highlight Jones Beach State Park, the Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City, the aquarium in Riverhead and wineries on the North Fork.

I Love NY ads helped boost the number of domestic and international tourists visiting New York State by more than 5 million in 2016-17 compared with a year earlier, according to the ESD report, which was released last month.

The tourism industry generated $104 billion in economic activity, up $4 billion from 2015-16.

The report also shows spending was about evenly split last year between tourism ads, $28 million, and business development ads, $26 million.

Past ads aimed at getting companies to move to New York and touting the pay-no-taxes-for-10-years Start-Up NY program have drawn fire from state lawmakers.

Last month, the State Senate’s Republican majority said money earmarked for business promotions would be better spent on reducing the taxes paid by companies.

Zemsky said ESD spent millions of dollars in TV commercials in 2011-2013 to combat executives’ negative impressions of the state. It spent $53 million on ads for Start-Up NY.

“It was important to get the message out that ‘New York is open for business’ and that changes have been made to improve the business climate,” he said.

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