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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"Pouring out a few thoughts on tourism"

ALBANY, May 14, 2017 -- Thermometers could be topping the 80-degree mark later in this week. Boats are getting back on the water. Corning’s GlassFest is right around the corner, and The Glen is gearing up for another exciting season of racing and other events.

Therefore, we might as well go ahead and turn a few thoughts toward tourism. Why not? After all, last week’s announcement that the statewide tourism industry set new records in 2016 for total number of visitors, economic impact and direct spending was outstanding. We attracted a record 239 million visitors last year. These visitors drove nearly $65 billion in direct spending, the highest amount ever. The industry overall generated a nearly $105-billion economic impact.

In other words, tourism is big business across the state and right here at home throughout the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions where, according to estimates, the industry accounts for 60,000 jobs.

However, for those of us born and raised here -- or for anyone who has lived here for any extended length of time -- tourism runs so much deeper than dollars and cents. The industry, in all of its many layers, largely defines our culture. It’s woven into the fabric of our lives, how we work and raise our families, as well as being the foundation of so many of Upstate’s locally based traditions.

We’re wise to take every opportunity to celebrate it, promote it and showcase it -- which is exactly what we’re doing in Albany on Tuesday, May 16. I’ll be joining area Assemblymen Phil Palmesano and Chris Friend, along with several other legislative colleagues, to host the New York Wine Industry Association’s (NYWIA) 4th Annual “Sip and Sample” tasting event. Over the past several years, this event has steadily grown into one of the Legislature’s top efforts to show off New York State-made wines, cheeses and other food products. This year’s “Sip and Sample” is the largest one yet. It will feature wineries, cheese producers and other food manufacturers from the Finger Lakes, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and Central and Western New York.

We are proud to help support our winemakers, cheese producers and other food manufacturers by promoting the excellence and quality of their products. For example, I’ve said repeatedly over the years that New York’s grape and wine industry is one of our state’s greatest-of-all success stories. It has been just remarkable. From the brink of disaster a generation ago, the industry today is widely renowned and admired statewide, nationally and internationally. In fact, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation estimates the state’s grape, grape juice and wine industries annually generate approximately $5 billion in overall economic benefits to New York.

If you’re familiar at all with the industry, then you appreciate and understand how much has gone into the industry’s transformation, at so many levels, including the level of advocacy, public awareness and education -- areas where NYWIA ( has made and continues to make such a difference.

Of course, the rise of the wine industry has helped sparked the ongoing emergence of the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail ( It was my great pleasure at the Capitol last Tuesday to honor Carmella Hoffman of Schuyler County as a New York State Senate 2017 “Woman of Distinction.” Carm’s work as an artisan cheese producer as the owner and operator of Sunset View Creamery, and as a driving force behind the annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival (which takes place this year on July 22; find out more at, makes her exemplary of the commitment and quality of Finger Lakes agriculture.

So yes, it’s more than worthwhile to help show off the quality of New York State winemakers, cheese producers and other food manufacturers.

That’s what we’ll be bringing to the attention of our colleagues in New York State government this week. These industries are economic engines for a great number of rural, Upstate communities. They provide good, sustainable livelihoods for thousands of New Yorkers.

Most importantly, their growth and success remain a story in the making.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Jim Howell, Michael Lausell, Van Harp

Bottom row: Carl Blowers, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Mark Rondinaro


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Carl Blowers

Van Harp

Jim Howell

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Michael Lausell

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482

Mark Rondinaro

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Harriett Vickio, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano-- Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791


© The Odessa File 2017
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869