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Promotion Council Seeks Reinvention, Transportation & Tourism Boosts

Noted tourism expert Lalia Rach will make an appearance on the North Fork in November to fire up business community and longstanding promotional organization.

To North Fork Promotion Council President Joan Bischoff van Heemskerck, there are so many more aspects of the North Fork outside of wineries to enjoy for locals and tourists — 42 aspects, to be exact, if you look on www.northfork.org.

It’s just that not too many people outside of a 100-mile radius know about the North Fork’s wide variety of beaches, antique stores, museums, shopping districts, fresh local produce, festivals, concerts, golf courses, boating and other water sports opportunities and other reasons beyond wine tasting — as important as that industry is for tourism — to visit the area.

With the creation of a new marketing committee and an upcoming presentation from Dr. Lalia Rach, a former dean of New York Univeristy and noted specialist on tourism, van Heemskerck said he hopes to “focus on the synergies already happening on the North Fork and bring people together.”

“But first, we need someone from the outside world to shake us up a little bit,” said van Heemskreck at a meeting of the new marketing committee Thursday evening at the Mattituck-Laurel Historical Society. “We have such wide cultural differences in our little area, but no one seems to talk to each other, hamlet to hamlet.”

Dr. Rach will speak on Nov. 8, time to be announced, at the Wharf House at Founders Landing in Southold, focusing on how the North Fork can more effectively promote itself in a cohesive way — and hopefully revitalize the local economy.

The North Fork Promotion Council began over 25 years ago as the Southold Transportation Council, a group made up of chamber of commerce members with the intention of marketing the North Fork in a new way. It evolved into the North Fork Promotion Council in 1995 and now represents over 350 local businesses. It also oversees the information booths for tourists in Laurel and Greenport.

At the marketing meeting, North Fork Promotion Council member and real estate agent Donielle Cardinale said that the council should take on more of an umbrella role to unite not only the business communities of each hamlet, but also help expand the horizons of local chambers of commerce — entities she says have become “antiquated.”

“There are so many groups in town trying to accomplish the same things promotion-wise, I feel like this council should create a common goal for everyone and provide opportunities to go out there and make it happen,” she said. “I think the chambers have become antiquated — beautification committees, really. And you don’t need to go to dinner to meet people anymore, we need to reach beyond that circle. We need other people to know about us.”

Joe Corso, owner of Peconic Retreat in Cutchogue and another member of the council, said that for years an effort has made to merge the North Fork and Mattituck chambers of commerce, and he agreed that the North Fork Promotion Council should push to market the North Fork beyond the Northeast — especially now that Long Island Wine Country is on the national map in the wine world.

But the promotion council’s roots in transportation is still one of the most important aspects of the organization, according to many at the Thursday marketing meeting.

Steve Bate, head of the Long Island Wine Council a voice on the Long Island Economic Development Committee, said that a recently proposed shuttle system during holiday weekends on the North Fork “really got the hook in the folks up in Albany.” As a test run if approved, this shuttle would loop tourists to and from Long Island railroad trains and the Cross Sound Ferry to Connecticut during four key weekends, Bate said.

To Cardinale, transportation is key in better marketing, promotion and ultimately better business in Wine Country and beyond, in season and off season.

“Once people are here, the North Fork sells itself,” she said. “It’s a matter of finding ways to get them here, to expose everyone else to what we already love.”

Interested in attending the session on fostering tourism from Dr. Lalia Rach on Nov. 8? Email jbischoff@1townandcountry.com.

What do you think can be done to better promote the North Fork and unite hamlet business communities? Let us know in the comment boxes below.

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