Syracuse, NY - Destiny USA, New York State’s largest shopping, dining and entertainment destination visited by 26 million guests annually, ended the year with large gains once again in group travel visitation with a 46% increase in motor coach arrivals over the prior year, the largest increase ever for the destination. The buses were fuller than ever, as well, with an increase of 60% in ridership over 2016’s final results. International guests visited in droves from 29 countries with an influx of domestic travelers from all 50 states.
Destiny USA hosted, in all, travelers from 28 additional countries beyond the USA and Canada throughout 2017. Others included Australia, China, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Martinique, Mexico, Norway, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.
Since the rebranding of Destiny USA in 2012, significant resources have been invested strategically in both domestic and international trade show outreach to create awareness of the product. Representatives of Destiny USA attended 20 trade shows throughout the year, focusing on strengthening relationships with colleagues and introducing the product and area to new operators throughout the USA and in Canada, Europe, Asia and Latin America with the goal of drumming up strong future visitation from both emerging and mature markets.
“Our marketing efforts throughout the world have produced a great return on investment” said Rose Hapanowich, Director of Travel and Tourism. “Our appeal as a significant international travel destination continues to be recognized and is growing.”
In addition to making continuous improvements in the mix of traditional retail, outlets, restaurants, amusements and entertainment venues throughout the year, Destiny USA introduced two strategic assets to enhance its tourism draw – onsite accommodations at Embassy Suites by Hilton at Destiny USA and an I Love New York Central New York Welcome Center inside of the destination.
Opening in September of 2017, Embassy Suites has already positioned itself as a popular overnight haven, both for Destiny USA-bound guests and business travelers. Wedding and special event bookings have also been strong, bringing in both local and out-of-town attendees. Registration records indicate guests have stayed at the hotel from 47 states and eight countries throughout the first four months of operation.
The Welcome Center, one of 11 planned for the state, joined Destiny USA in November to promote Central New York tourism and history, while offering locally-made, world-class food and gifts for sale through the Taste New York market. The state’s investment in the Welcome Center complements “Central New York Rising” – the region’s comprehensive strategy to revitalize communities and grow the economy. According to Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who spoke at the grand opening event: “The Central NY Welcome Center presents the perfect opportunity to promote our state, introduce our products to a global market, promote tourism, and most importantly – bring more jobs to upstate New York.”
“Visit Syracuse is proud to operate and manage the CNY Welcome Center near the Canyon area of Destiny USA,” stated Visit Syracuse President & CEO Danny Liedka. "We applaud Destiny USA’s efforts to enhance regional tourism assets as well as its global promotional initiatives that have resulted in record-breaking numbers for 2017. We look forward to another year of collaboration in 2018 to bring even more people to Syracuse.”