ALBANY COUNTY — When a person thinks of the words “Albany” and “tourism,” images like the New York State Capitol, the Egg or the Empire State Plaza may come to mind.
However, Discover Albany, an independent, not-for-profit organization that promotes Albany County to visitors, event planners and even local residents, wants to change that mindset — or rather, expand it.
The public is encouraged to attend “Discover: Discover Albany,” along with the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce.
It is a free event where they can learn more about what Discover Albany does and what the county offers in terms of events, conventions, culture, natural landmarks, and also attract visitors to businesses here.
The event is geared towards local business owners too who want to learn how to gain more exposure to visitors and convention attendees.
It will be on Tuesday, June 11 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Bethlehem Public Library on 451 Delaware Ave. in Delmar.
Being the official tourism organization for Albany County since its founding in 1976, Discover Albany CEO and president Jill Delaney said, “There’s always this perception that the word, ‘Albany,’ is only for downtown Albany or the city of Albany. But it’s actually for Albany County and we want to represent businesses and residents from all over the county too. We promote Albany County to visitors, conventions, and meeting planners, and promote all the wonderful rich, cultural assets that we have here to residents too.”
According to Discover Albany, more than 4,300 visitors come to Albany County each day.
Delaney added that Discover Albany also offers many maps, an events calendar, restaurant guides, and visitor guides to help visitors, curious residents, and people relocating to the area.
She also said its website and social media platforms are “very active and heavily followed.”
Relating to the latter point, she said one step Discover Albany took in recent years to boost more public interest in Albany County was to change its former name — Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc. — into its current one.
“The old name didn’t really speak to the locals although it invited people from outside,” she said. “Changing our name helped make it sound more like it’s for everybody and to promote locals too. It gave us a better voice in social media as well and our followers have really boosted locally as much as it has from conventions. The old name is still our legal name though.”
When asked how she imagines Albany County to be like with regards to tourism in perhaps 10 years from now, Delaney said she hoped that more hotels would open because of a rise in people coming to the area, that her organization will continue working with surrounding counties, and that more people, even locals, experience the overall county, not just the city.
Speaking of locals, Delaney said residents can also take advantage of Discover Albany’s resources.
She brought up how the region includes a “400-year-old city with a huge dose of history,” a “dynamic” craft beverage scene, the Helderberg Mountains, space for athletic events and other conventions, and more.
“The one thing the local public may think is that they know everything about the area they live in, but they should explore like a tourist,” she concluded. “That’s when they learn new things they didn’t know were in their backyards before and plus, they won’t have to pay much to explore since they do live here.”
For more information, visit www.albany.org.