Sustainable Long Island (SLI) has been awarded $20,000 from the Long Island Community Foundation (LICF) to partner with the Long Island Arts Alliance (LIAA) to develop Long Island arts and culture-based corridors across Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Along with the LIAA, SLI will craft an integrated approach to help the region thrive by leveraging arts and culture with the existing assets of local communities in order to appeal to international visitors.
“Shopping centers and outlets across Long Island are well positioned and have successfully and consistently attracted the global shopper throughout the years. What is often missing, however, is a coordinated and organized effort to create arts and culture-based tourist packages that will provide unique experiences these visitors are craving when they journey to Long Island – specifically to shop.” said Amy Engel, Executive Director, Sustainable Long Island. “With the generous funding from LICF, our hope is to help local communities increase sustained tourism and foster arts-related economic development.”
In 2013 the National Travel & Tourism Office reported that of the 32 million in overseas visitors that came to the U.S., 87.7% ranked shopping as the number one purpose of their trip. According to tourism industry research, arts tourists stay longer and spend more than the average traveler. Local businesses then in turn reap the financial rewards of the increased spending they bring to local economies.
“Long Island’s world-class arts and cultural institutions are vital to fueling the local economy and to attracting the cultural tourist,” said Theresa Statz-Smith, Executive Director, Long Island Arts Alliance. “It makes perfect sense to partner with Sustainable Long Island in this community based initiative to attract international visitors and shoppers alike.”
As the economic impact of arts and culture on Long Island continues to grow, SLI and LIAA will:
- Identify a maximum of five Long Island communities that include well established arts-related venues with close proximity to internationally appealing shopping;
- Assess the willingness of community stakeholders for hosting/accepting large influxes of international visitors to their community;
- Determine the logistical capability of these communities to handle such large numbers of tourists from a traffic, lodging, and dining establishment point of view;
- Coordinate with established shopping centers familiar with the travel trades, bus operators, and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to discuss the possibility of combined culture-based tourism packages;
- Develop a map of international visitor corridors of communities with art venues well positioned, willing, and logistically able to support large amounts of tourists seeking unique, cultural experiences.
Travel trade experts report that what their clients are yearning for are “unique cultural experiences that they can enjoy.” We believe Long Island is well positioned to provide these unique cultural experiences with its breathtaking scenery, legendary hospitality, historic landmarks, and world-class arts and culture entertainment. A report prepared by former Long Island Association economist Dr. Pearl Kamer in the summer of 2011 found that over a five year period arts respondents on Long Island increased spending of almost $171 million for goods and services, generating increased income of more than $96 million, and creating more than 4700 jobs.
To achieve the goals and objectives outlined above (the program will start in September 2015), SLI and LIAA will:
- Speak with local officials and key community stakeholders in a maximum of five communities that are potentially well suited to handle international tourists in each community arts-related venues;
- Conduct an online survey to assess public sentiment about culture-based international tourism;
- Host a focus group of community stakeholders in each of the potential communities to solicit public input on the project;
- Meet with professionals at the key shopping establishments familiar with travel trade, as well as bus operators and the LIRR, in order to assess their willingness to partner;
- Assess through reviewing maps, demographic analysis, surveys, and field evaluations the logistics of whether the community infrastructure, road network, existing dining establishment arrangement, and existing lodging can support large numbers of visitors all at once;
- Using mapping software, develop a map of international visitor corridors to include key arts venues, shopping venues, lodging, dining, and other relevant data that can be used to generate additional culture-based tourism on Long Island.
By conducting the necessary research and engaging the public in the five communities; identifying next steps as well as obstacles that need to be overcome; and clearly mapping out the corridors of possibility – this effort will result in a master plan for how to develop an integrated approach to helping the region thrive by leveraging the arts and culture with the existing assets of local communities in order to appeal to international visitors. It is a necessary first step that will ultimately lead to enhanced tourism, thriving economic development, a revitalization of our downtowns and local communities, and a world-wide appreciation of the unique cultural gems Long Island has to offer.