Orange County Partnership - News

  • Warwick Drive-In Movie Theater

Keep Calm! The Road to Recovery Starts with Tourism

As the world opens back up for business, many companies are adjusting to the “new normal” as they navigate their operations to accommodate health and safety guidelines. Inherently, the tourism is about attracting visitors and providing fun-filled activities that often involve mass gatherings and crowds.


As the new visitor seeks the outdoors and wide-open spaces, many tourism destinations are expanding their footprint to accommodate the need for open-air experiences. It’s not uncommon to see these open-air experiences expand beyond their current location into municipal spaces such as streets and sidewalks.


“As we work our way through this unprecedented public health crisis and start to rebuild our economy, one constant is the need for people to travel,” said Orange County Director of Tourism Amanda Dana. “When people feel safer, they will venture out and seek new experiences. The Hudson Valley and Orange County will be that destination where millions of visitors will plan their next vacation.  Visitor spending will kick-start our economy and move the needle toward economic recovery for all industries.”


One such new experience for travelers is City Winery located at the historic Montgomery Mills property in the Village of Montgomery. The venue which opened for business on June 18, is expected to be a staple of Orange County’s tourism industry, and now joins the winery chain’s other locations in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. The much-anticipated development, which will eventually include not only a winery, but a hotel, restaurant, and more, was recently profiled in Hudson Valley Magazine.


Trends of the New Visitor


A prime example of a creative municipality promoting outdoor space is the Village of Warwick. The teaming of village and town leadership, the Warwick Chamber of Commerce and local businesses proved to be the perfect roadmap to success.  They closed streets to accommodate visitors safely and conveniently.  The Village and Town of Warwick attract thousands of visitors from many areas including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and the New York metro area. The outdoor eating experience is a trend that will be around for a very long time. Dining and craft beverage establishments that provide this option have seen a significant increase in sales as New York State continues to reopen.   


The Increased Popularity of the Drive-In Movie


What was once a very popular pastime is now making an incredible come back! The Fair Oaks Drive-In and the Warwick Drive-In, to name a few, have been running at capacity since the beginning of May and have attracted hundreds of people (cars) during the pandemic. Not only are these Drive-Ins the venue for featured movies, they also accommodate graduations and just recently staged live-stream performances where carloads of people get to experience concerts as if they were actually there.


Garth Brooks will live stream a concert at more than 300 Drive-in Theater locations across the U.S. More than 300,000 people tried to purchase tickets, which triggered promoters to add additional dates. The price for tickets is $100 a carload.


Drive-Market Visitors and VRBO Trends


The COVID-19 pandemic and the stay-in-place guidelines will have a significant impact on drive- market destinations. The definition of drive-market is any destination within a 250-mile radius of a major metro area and Orange County will experience a surge of visitors from New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia and Boston once restrictions are lifted and visitors feel safe to travel.


Where will the visitors stay? When looking at the lodging preferences, popular flags such as Hilton and Marriott will continue to remain constant, however, the increased popularity of Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) is in high demand in the Hudson Valley. There is a faster recovery plan with alternate accommodations than hotels. According to Bloomberg News, Airbnb saw a marked increase in nights booked for U.S. listings between May 17 and June 3 of this year over the same period in 2019. This is a strong indicator that our economy will steadily improve, and real dollars will be spent here.    


US Travel Trends


Trips that require longer booking windows, such as cruises and group tours, are more likely to have been postponed for later in the year, according to a recently released MMGY Travel Intelligence Wave V study.


Other key findings from the study include:


  • Optimism for both business and leisure travel continues to increase, with about 40% of those studied, expecting to still travel during the next six months.

  • Two-thirds of leisure travelers expect to book their next leisure trip within the next six months, and more than half are planning to do so during the next three months. Just over half (55%) of business travelers expect to take their next business trip during the next six months.

  • Sixty-seven percent of travelers are likely to travel by personal car during the next six months, more than double the percentage planning to travel by air during the same time period. When travelers do return to the skies, they are most likely to take a domestic flight.

  • One-third of those likely to travel by personal car are willing to drive 300 or more miles one-way from home to reach their destination, and one in five is willing to travel 500 miles or more.

  • While those likely to stay in a hotel or resort during the coming months increased from the previous study, the percentage likely to do so remains relatively low (38%).

  • Interest in ocean/river cruising and visiting a theme park/attraction is rising.

  • Consumers continue to feel safer about overnight leisure travel within the U.S.