Finger Lakes one step closer to National Heritage designation

New federal legislation will bring the Finger Lakes Region one step closer to being designated a National Heritage Corridor.

The Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance (FLTA) on Wednesday learned that the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act was signed, authorizing the allocation of funds that will allow the National Park Service to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of designating the Finger Lakes Region as a National Heritage Corridor.

With legislation passed, the Finger Lakes now will undergo the feasibility study process. National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural and historic resources come together to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.

“It has been incredible to watch this grassroots effort grow, from idea conception here in the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance office, to then gain strength and traction with private/public sector support in recognition of what this historically rich and meaningful piece of New York State means to the rest of the nation,” FLTA President Cynthia Kimble said in a statement. “It comes as no surprise to me or anyone who visits this beautiful part of our state that the Finger Lakes Region deserves to go through this process and be deemed as a federally recognized National Heritage Area, particularly as we have heard the overwhelming support from our key stakeholders.”

Particularly poignant is the passage of the legislation during the FLTA’s 100th anniversary year, Kimble noted.

Tourism is a $3 billion industry in the Finger Lakes and employs more than 58,000 people, FLTA officials said. Designation as a National Heritage Area has led to an incremental but substantial increase in tourism in other areas that have received the designation.

There are nearly 50 designated National Heritage Areas which support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism and educational projects.

“Should the Finger Lakes Region be deemed feasible for this distinction, we will certainly be sharing in the momentous prestige of other like-minded areas and work to promote this beautiful and historically significant region even more than we already strive for every day,” Kimble said.

Founded in 1919, FLTA is recognized as the oldest regional destination marketing organization in the U.S. FLTA is an association of private-sector attractions, tourism-related businesses and county tourism offices working together to enhance and promote visitor businesses for the 9,000-square-mile Finger Lakes Region.

The FLTA will celebrate its anniversary at a gala May 4 at the Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Geneva Lakefront Resort. The event will feature celebrity chef Samantha Buyskes, as well as a silent auction, live music and dancing and Finger Lakes wine and craft beverages.

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