Elected officials met with members of the East End Tourism Alliance recently in Southold to discuss a hefty new grant awarded to the East End to promote tourism in the area.
The Market NY $335,000 grant, an Empire State Development grant through the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, which Janine Nebons, of EETA and general manager of Tanger Outlets, and Bryan DeLuca, director of the EETA and general manager of the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center, applied for, along with Steve Bate of the Long Island Wine Council.
The grant is to be divided between the North and South Forks.
The funding needs to be spent before Dec. 31, Joan Bishoff of the North Fork Promotion Council said.
To that end, the "Taste East End" promotion was born, beginning in September and running through December.
The centerpiece of the promotion will take place on the South Fork on October 12 - 14.
A similar event will follow on the North Fork on Veterans Day weekend.
"The reason for the grant is to promote agri-tourism throughout the shoulder season," DeLuca said.
The three main tenets that helped the East End win the grant were that the monies needed to be used for an event that would be "transformative," and promote agritourism, during the off season.
"The transformational angle is the transportation," DeLuca said.
Andrew Lynch, vice president of Hampton Jitney, was onhand to discuss the bus loops.
The actual bus routes for the South Fork event still being determined.
Across the entire North and South Forks, the theme of "Taste the East End," meant to tie in with New York State’s I ♥ NY campaign, will highlight events in all the five towns through December.
The campaign includes new fall television spots, print, social media, digital, Long Island Railroad billboards, New York City street teams and television billboard advertising.
The new fall television spot, produced locally by 91East Productions, was designed to promote the region’s shoulder season and will air in the New York metro market for 10 weeks.
“We are excited to be the lead agency in this regional collaboration,” DeLuca said. “Everyone is working together to extend the East End’s tourism season by driving traffic to one website. Efforts such as this keep jobs active through the off-season, promoting the rich agricultural heritage as well as the growing hospitality industry in the area.”
DeLuca said some businesses have signed on for five-second tags at the ends of the 30-second TV commercial spots.
"The whole premise is to get people to come in the off season," he said.
TripAdvisor was even targeted to feature East End events, he said; social media has also been utilized.
The entire campaign, DeLuca said, is multi-channel and everything points people back to the website, which features a fall guide and map.
"The beauty of this thing is that unites both Forks all the way up to Shellabration in Greenport in December," DeLuca said.
DeLuca mentioned another initiative that the EETA is setting up at MacArthur Airport, a section to sell East End products, including Long Island wines, lavender, chips, and tea; monitors will promote digital ads for East End events, beaches, golf courses, restaurants, and destinations, too.
On the South Fork, while routes are still being finalized, shuttles will run around Westhampton and Montauk, with service possibly to extend from Southampton to Montauk on regularly scheduled Hampton Jitney lines.
Shuttles will service Westhampton and Montauk is because those communities are hosting events that weekend, Bate said.
Montauk will feature its Annual Fall Festival and Westhampton has the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce Fall Arts & Crafts Show, Kiwanis Oyster Festival, and the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce Annual Fall Sidewalk Sale.
The South Fork will center on existing events as anchor activities for the shuttle service while the North Fork is creating a new Veteran’s Day weekend festival that celebrates local specialties involving hamlets, wineries and other businesses along the shuttle route from Riverhead to Greenport.
“The objective of the EETA project is to promote shoulder season agri-tourism,” Bate said. “Although we may not have access to grant funding for this every year, we certainly hope that we will be able to continue to promote tourism after Labor Day and before Memorial Day to help all East End businesses. Fall festivals are great season-extenders.”