“Nobody came to us and talked to us,” he said. “FISHCAP is a program we have no knowledge of.”
Hogan said that if legislators would have asked the IDA for input, “we could assess the program and make a recommendation,” adding its office already promotes several fishing initiatives.
He said FISHCAP’s claim of hosting world-class events isn’t reflected on its website, which mentions a fire-department fishing tourney, an annual carp challenge and a Wounded Warriors fishing event.
“Five (tournaments) are hardly numerous and certainly not (reflective of) the fishing capital of the United States,” he said.
Leitz’s other budget recommendation is to spend $25,000 on a grant writer/consultant for agri-tourism business, where, for example, visitors from urban areas spend hands-on weekends or vacations working on a North Country farm to experience rural living.
Hogan said agri-business is a large draw in places like Argentine cattle ranches and sheep farms “with hundreds of people working for them” and where employees dress in gaucho costumes and other cultural garb to play up to tourists’ expectations.
But rural northern New York may not be the same kind of draw, he said, adding that even industry insiders say places considering agri-tourism should ask “do you have what it takes” before delving into such ventures.
Hogan compared the potential income from agri-tourism to existing golfing packages the Tourism Office promotes.
According to agency statistics, 5,643 golf packages were sold as of September, a 10 percent increase from last year.
The average cost is $250 per package and includes overnight lodging and two days of unlimited golf at the Malone Golf Club. The county pays $6,500 toward that program, a figure that is matched by state funds.
Every $1 spent on the golf packages, officials say, translates into $35 in sales-tax revenue to the county, so offering $25,000 toward agri-business “is a lot of money,” considering the golf promotion’s financial return, Hogan said.