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Hammond is hoping to pool its tourism efforts

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HAMMOND — The town’s Economic Development committee is considering pooling its tourism efforts with the Thousand Island-St. Lawrence Region.

Economic Development committee members, Hammond village and town officials and Morristown Mayor Cheryl A. Shatraw listened Wednesday as a representative from RiverQuest presented the benefits of joining a multi-community effort to promote attractions along both sides of the St. Lawrence River.

The McLellan Group, a consulting firm based in Toronto, Ontario, is in charge of marketing RiverQuest.

The goal of RiverQuest is to increase the number of people visiting the area, encourage tourists to visit multiple sites, and increase the length of visits, McLellan Group account director Lyne Roberge said.

Committee member and General Manager of Singer Castle Thomas A. Weldon said RiverQuest is a two-year marketing strategy that involves cross-promoting attractions from both sides of the river from Massena to the Thousand Islands. The idea was to originally support the Aquatarium, a 25,000 square-foot aquarium and discovery center set to open this summer in Brockville, Ontario.

“The Aquatarium (Brockville) will act as a hub and the individual attractions from the towns and villages along the river will act as the spokes,” Mr. Weldon said.

If Hammond chooses to join the group, a link to the town’s economic development website will be advertised on RiverQuest’s. Hammond will also be listed as a destination on several strategically placed informational kiosks, five of which will be located on the U.S. side of the river.

From the Hammond economic development website, tourists will have access to restaurants, lodging and other businesses in the area, Committee Co-Chairwoman Erica C. Demick said. Membership for the committee’s website costs $50.

Fees to be included on the RiverQuest’s kiosks, website, and souvenir maps will range from $500 to $10,000.

“We’re willing to work with you to make sure the cost is fair,” Ms. Roberge said.

Mr. Weldon said letting tourists design their own “quest” along the river will help those who might not know what the region has to offer otherwise.

“When many people visit the castle, they often ask what else there is to do,” Mr. Weldon said. “This will provide them with an answer and help keep them here longer.”

Hammond Supervisor Ronald W. Bertram said he supports the investment.

“This is like nothing else around,” he said. “What this will really amount to is exposure. It’s just another outlet for us to get Hammond’s name out there.”

Ms. Roberge said she estimates that over 3 million people will be reached by RiverQuest this year. Mr. Bertram is hoping the opportunity will draw people to Black Lake and the town’s businesses and recreational features.

But committee members decided to hold off before joining the campaign until it can negotiate a feasible rate.

“We have over 60-something businesses that are a part of the committee, many of which are not located along the river, so we need to be sure we are representing them in the best way possible,” Town Council and town economic Development committee liaison Howard Demick said.

The town already partnered with RiverQuest to compile over 10 hours of aerial footage to promote the region. A three minute sample of the video can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=YziwZF8ViUU.

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