December 6, 2021

Looking for room to roam

Travel industry sees indications of rebound this spring and summer

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Robert Neehan walks with his dog, Mary Jane, on Friday at Dwyer Memorial Park in Preble. Travel in, around and outside of the county will likely pick up this year as restrictions ease and more people become vaccinated against COVID-19, travel experts said.

A year after the coronavirus pandemic affected travel, signs point to a return in visitors to Cortland County this spring and summer.

“All indications are that people are starting to do some traveling again, or at least are starting to plan to begin to travel again this summer,” said Meghan Lawton, the executive director for the Cortland County Convention & Visitors Bureau, in an email. “Visitor Guide requests on our website have seen a big uptick over the past couple weeks,” especially since Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the relaxation of more COVID-related restrictions.

Last week, the governor announced that beginning May 19, restrictions for restaurants, amusement venues based on percentage of capacity would be lifted, according to the governor’s office. In its place, capacity would be based on social distancing.

Lawton said interest visiting parks and other natural, outdoor attractions will likely continue this year.

Parks and other outdoor attractions saw increased popularity in 2020 as safe spaces for recreation that allowed for social distancing.

There is also interest growing for visitors to return to indoor attractions such as museums and art galleries, she said.

“It will vary from individual to individual as to what they feel comfortable taking part in,” she said, giving the example of an individual going to an outdoors drive-in concert held by the Center for the Arts at Dwyer Memorial Park in Preble versus going to a concert held by the center inside Whiting Theater in Homer.

Sam Ferro, the general manager of the Hampton Inn in Cortland, said room bookings have increased from travelers as well. People have been coming and are booking at the hotel from all over
the country for sporting events at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex in Cortlandville.

“I just hope it continues,” he said.

Likewise, county residents are also becoming more interested in traveling elsewhere.

“Business is starting to pick up as people are getting immunized,” said Debby Rainbow-Court, the owner of and travel agent at Cortland Travel Center.

Top destinations include Florida and Mexico, which aren’t as restrictive with incoming travelers, she said. Countries in Europe, though, have been harder for people to book vacations.

She said that she hopes by fall or winter, “we should be in good shape to travel again outside of the country.”

No matter what visitors come to the county for, “all travel is good travel,” Lawton said. “After such a dramatic impact to the tourism industry last year, we are pleased to see travel happening again, and to see planning for travel happening again,” she said. “It will all have a positive economic impact on the county.”