Inward-looking summer tourism plan polishes LI ‘gems’

Thanks for that: Discover Long Island's Summer 2020 tourism campaign is all about staycations -- and being grateful for what Long Island has to offer.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

From the Don’t Know What You’ve Got Until It’s Gone Department comes Discover Long Island, which has discovered another reason for Long Islanders to love summer.

The season is already a favorite, obviously, in a region replete with world-class beaches and a thriving tourism trade. But Summer 2020 dawns under the slowly receding shadow of the coronavirus pandemic – and brings with it a “renewed sense of gratitude,” according to Discover Long Island, which has made such sentiments the cornerstone of its 2020 tourism campaign.

The marketing and management organization is offering regional businesses fresh insights into promoting Island destinations during the recovery, with thankfulness as a primary theme. If theaters, vineyards and waterfront restaurants are the gifts, gratitude is the ribbon tying them together, after the colossal coronavirus shutdown threatened so many small businesses in travel-related industries.

That’s the gist of Discover Long Island’s “Renewed Gratitude” video campaign, launched this week in support of a $6.1 billion tourism industry that incorporates some 80 percent of regional small businesses, supports 100,000-plus local jobs and right now needs all the help it can get, according to Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander, a big fan of Destination Long Island’s work.

Eric Alexander: Street wise.

Alexander particularly likes the “Renewed Gratitude” campaign’s focus on both Long Island businesses and Long Island customers – an important detail with out-of-state tourism a virtual null factor this year.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts of Discover Long Island to encourage economic activity by guiding our residents to enjoy Long Island’s main streets, attractions and parks at a time when we would normally be sharing them with the rest of the world,” Alexander said in a statement. “Now more than ever, it is important for our residents, who are staying safe and local, to support our local downtown businesses.”

While its Summer 2020 marketing strategy is noticeably inward-looking, the region’s main tourism booster still leaves plenty of room for fun in the sun. “We will still enjoy the benefits of living where those long to vacation,” noted Discover Long Island President and CEO Kristen Jarnagin, though there are absolutely serious economic principles in play.

Regional hospitality and tourism trades were “among the first and most negatively affected” businesses when COVID-19 essentially shut down the spring season – but Long Island tourism has always proven itself a resilient industry, according to Jarnagin.

Kristen Jarnagin: Home team.

“This industry is also historically the first to lead in economic generation and job creation in times of recovery,” she said.

Hence the Renewed Gratitude campaign, which expresses not only what Discover Long Island and its member businesses want, but what health and safety experts preach – and require by law – as humanity emerges from lockdown.

“We have been working closely with our elected officials and industry partners on a safe and calculated strategy to open local businesses and stimulate local economic activity,” Jarnagin noted. “We intend to see an increase of residents staying local and when appropriate … taking advantage of our region’s renowned tourism assets and vast outdoor experiences.”

The Renewed Gratitude video, developed in-house by the Discover Long Island production team, will be shared free with local businesses and given to regional media outlets “for inspirational use,” Discover Long Island said in a statement.

The pivot from multistate tourism agency to regional promoter is bittersweet for sure, but made easier by the wealth of “tourism gems available in [our] own backyard,” according to Jarnagin.

And it will play a vital role as Long Island regains its post-pandemic economic footing, the CEO added.

“Long Islanders wait all year long for our summer season,” Jarnagin said. “This year, it will be with a greater appreciation and a renewed sense of gratitude as we start to see our businesses and attractions begin to re-open.”