Orleans hires full-time tourism director

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 December 2017 at 7:21 pm

Dawn Borchert

ALBION – Orleans County has hired a full-time tourism director, who expects to see the county’s tourism industry grow.

Dawn Borchert comes to the county with an extensive background in tourism. The Akron resident has worked as executive director for the New York State Travel Industry Association since 2004. She has 27 years in the business including five years as the tourism marketing director for the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

Borchert will succeed Lynne Menz, who has been working part-time on a contractual basis. She will continue working for county tourism 8 hours a week in designing brochures, working on the website and helping with marketing. Menz wanted to step back from the manager position so she can devote more time to her business, Lynne Menz Designs.

She said Borchert has deep connections in the tourism industry and has the passion to propel the county’s tourism efforts.

“She is a gift to the county,” Menz said. “She has experience at the state level. She knows everybody in the tourism industry. She is eager and she is a hard worker.”

Menz was hired in 2015 following the retirement of Wayne Hale, who served as tourism director in addition to director of the Planning and Development Department.

When she was at the Genesee Chamber, Borchert worked with Hale to establish a “Country Byways” tourism package in the rural GLOW counties.

Borchert gives the county its first full-time tourism director. She starts Jan. 2 at an annual salary of $48,897.

Menz said the county’s heritage tourism sites, such as the historic districts and Cobblestone Museum, could be bigger draws. The county’s top tourism attraction is the fishing industry. It accounts for about $12 million in visitor spending.

Orleans, however, ranks dead last among the 62 counties in New York for tourism revenue, according to a study last year by Tourism Economics and Empire State Development.

Many counties, including some small ones, bring in well over $100 million in tourism revenue. But no county brings in less than Orleans, which totaled $24.421 million in visitor spending in 2015. That was about $4 million less than the 61st-ranked county, Chenango, at $28.455 million.

The lack of a chain hotel in Orleans has hurt the county’s tourism numbers, according to the Orleans Economic Development Agency which pushed to recruit BriMark Builders to construct a new Cobblestone Inn and Suites hotel in Medina. That 3-story hotel would be 10,557 square feet on Maple Ridge Road next to Pride Pak. The project has received the local approvals. It could open in 2018.

That hotel will allow the county to change its pitch to visitors, urging them to stay overnight. Many of visitors right now are day-trippers who come for an event and then drive out of the county.

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