Long Island business owners featured last year in Discover Long...

Long Island business owners featured last year in Discover Long Island's tourism campaign, You BeLONG. Credit: Discover Long Island

Long Island stands to lose tens of thousands of dollars per year from New York State in the wake of Nassau County’s decision to end 45 years of joint marketing of the two-county region to tourists, according to state records.

The documents show the Island wasn’t eligible for $85,000 in tourism matching funds this year via the state’s I LOVE NY program because Nassau dropped Discover Long Island. The nonprofit, based in Hauppauge,  handled promotions for both Nassau and Suffolk counties until last year.

Nassau was awarded $66,119 in I LOVE NY funding for 2024 by Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, and Suffolk received $63,619. But the two-county region didn’t win the additional $85,000 because only counties with regional marketing plans are eligible. 

For Long Island, no “regional program that would be administered by a regional Tourism Promotions Agency designated by the two counties” was presented to ESD, the records show.

Last year, the counties received a total of $80,870 in bonus funding.

“Acting as the region of Long Island for tourism promotion has always reaped the benefits of leveraging not only both counties’ resources, but also allows us many additional opportunities for regional grants,” said Kristen Reynolds, CEO and president of Discover Long Island.

She said the agency  she leads will continue to use the slogan “Long Island: Where You BeLONG,” but now only beaches, museums, restaurants and other Suffolk attractions will be promoted.

Discover Long Island recently received a $250,000 grant from ESD to promote the 2025 Ryder Cup golf tournament to be played in Nassau on Bethpage State Park's Black Course. But lodging, eateries and tourist destinations in the county won’t be part of the campaign, according to Reynolds. 

She said Discover Long Island remains open to working with Nassau and its tourism-related businesses. However, because the county no longer has a contract with the agency, firms that call Nassau home will have to pay a fee to be included in the agency's promotions, she said. 

A spokesman for Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman declined to comment.

In December, the county selected RRDA LI Inc., a for-profit advertising agency in Glen Head, to oversee tourism promotions. RRDA LI was chosen over Discover Long Island in a competitive bidding process, Newsday first reported on Thursday.

 Blakeman’s predecessor, Laura Curran, also selected another bidder over Discover Long Island, but a contract wasn’t completed before Curran lost her 2021 re-election bid to Blakeman, according to documents and interviews.

Blakeman spokesman Christopher Boyle confirmed that Blakeman has asked the county legislature to designate the county's Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums as its tourism promotions agency for the purpose of receiving I LOVE NY funding.

The activities of RRDA and Discover Long Island, which still has Suffolk’s tourism contract, will be funded through a portion of the hotel and motel tax: up to $1 million in Nassau and up to $6 million in Suffolk, according to officials.

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