Update: City beach to reinstate swimming
It’s been awhile, but today’s news has woken the TourPro out of a late-Winter doldrum.
The alleged “city by the lake” has made another interesting strategic decision and I’m afraid tourism has again gotten the short end of the stick. Due to increasing costs of operation, the city has been forced to increase property taxes by almost a third. Yesterday’s news was the elimination of the 4th of July fireworks. Well, we are keeping the Mayor’s Cup fireworks which happens a few days later. The fireworks, hmmm, not so much of a big deal and frankly watching those dollars go up in flames does seem a bit wasteful.
On the other hand, the City of Plattsburgh’s beach is another story. The city’s elected officials have deemed lifeguards to be an unneccesary cost and has deciced to ban swimming at the beach. The city of Plattsburgh literally now has zero human public access to the 6th largest body of fresh water in the lower 48. Sure, you can walk to the State Beach next door, but that’s not really the same or to the point. It is claimed that this is the “Largest fresh water beach in America” which city residents could access for free. To use a technical term, the fact that a “city by the lake” has no water access for its residents can only be described as “crappy”.
There are generations of Quebecers that have visited Plattsburgh for the very reason of coming to the beach. It is also about a minute from the highway exit and 20 minutes from the border. At the Beekmantown Center, informal polling reveals a large portion of day-trippers have the beach as one of their primary destinations. Does anyone besides those of us in tourism understand the fact that this type of visitation is an international commodity export? Given the fact that we have a national trade deficit, any export should be encouraged. It is also a well known fact that tourism visitation generates economic benefit far greater than the actual dollars spent in what is know as the multiplier effect. Thankfully the city is alert enough to save some money for notifying beachgoers on arrival.
“We will have the area posted, and we will give people a flyer when they come in, and hopefully people will take it to heart and stay out of the water,” King said. “If people don’t comply, we will call the authorities if we have to.”
Welcome to Plattsburgh. I would suggest that any student of marketing looking for an interesting case study, should observe the consumer reactions to going the a non-swimming beach. Also, City of Plattsburgh Police enforcement of the no-swimming ban will be an interesting lesson in customer service. In a morbid way, I am looking forward to tracking this story.
Does this kind of decision come as a surprise? Remember, this is the city that has sold out any available waterfront to developers. This is a city that does own a map of the city. They don’t have one available to the public, not even on the web. (I don’t count screenshots of Mapquest). They can’t even be bothered to include a link to Google Maps. How hard is that? Call me old fashioned, but wouldn’t it behoove the Economic Development office to be able to show where the hell Plattsburgh is when they try to sell it to someone? You would think so. The city doesn’t do tourism so I won’t even mention that. Oh, the “Chamber” has a nice map covered with advertising which they will gladly sell to you once you are already here (if you could even find the chamber) and it is during business hours. How generous of them. Why don’t they scan it and put it online? I wonder if they count the maps sold to Canadians in their vaunted “Canadian Impact” report?
We should be investing in the city beach. It is an asset, not a liability. Having a beach for city residents to go to for free and be able to swim is a major quality of life amenity that is now lost. Our quality of life just took a downturn. The only solution to budget crisis is cost cutting or revenue generation. Investing in tourism is a proven economic development tool which generates dollars coming in to a community. The geniuses involved would gladly invest millions in building an airport or a convention center, but they ignore the fact that people still need a reason to come.