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The idea a decade ago was pretty simple: Create a comprehensive guide to Rochester and the Finger Lakes region and ask local hotels to put it in their guest rooms. Such guidebooks are found in many cities, but at the time none existed in Rochester.
We had not even finished work on the guidebook when it became obvious we were thinking too narrowly. With chapters covering local history, museums, arts and entertainment, sports and recreation, parks and gardens, special events, dining, shopping, easy day trips and wineries, the publication had a lot to offer visitors and residents. So when the first edition of Explore Greater Rochester appeared in 2003, it was both a guidebook for hotel guests and a book available for purchase in local stores and online.
Over the years, the evolution of Explore Greater Rochester continued. A website was launched in 2009. A year later, we rolled out a digital version of the book. And last year, with its 10th anniversary, we decided to make Explore Greater Rochester available to all Rochester Business Journal subscribers.
Now the 2013 edition of Explore Greater Rochester has arrived-you will find it with your copy of this week's paper-and with it come some of the biggest changes since year one. First and foremost, Explore Greater Rochester has become the official guide of VisitRochester, the region's premier tourism organization. When VisitRochester approached us with the idea early this year, it didn't take long to decide this was something we wanted to do. But it was late in the game for this year's edition. That we got it done is a credit to the great partnership formed with new VisitRochester president and CEO Don Jeffries and his entire team.
Besides bringing additional resources to the publication, our partnership means Explore Greater Rochester-both in print and in digital format-will reach a far larger and more geographically diverse readership. It will help VisitRochester sell our area to audiences around the country and across the border.
With Explore Greater Rochester's new profile, we also decided to make another change we've mulled for several years. Starting this week, our Time Out page in the print edition and the Time Out e-newsletter, which is sent to readers each Thursday, have become extensions of Explore Greater Rochester. This is not simply a name change. We are refocusing parts of both the print page and e-newsletter to tap the wealth of information found in Explore Greater Rochester and at exploregreaterrochester.com.
In other words, what started as a hotel guidebook has become much more: Today, Explore also is an annual RBJ supplement, a website (with a mobile version), a digital publication, a page in the Friday print edition and a weekly email. While each of these has its unique qualities, the common thread is the goal of discovering and spreading the word about all our region has to offer.
Tourism is big business here and elsewhere, but it could play an even greater role in our economy if word reached more people. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recent tourism summit, with its emphasis on Upstate New York, was welcome recognition of this fact.
But as I've noted, Explore Greater Rochester has always been a publication for local residents as well as visitors to the area. Many people who live here recognize the area's exceptional quality of life-but not all. When Rochester ranked sixth in the 25th edition of "Places Rated Almanac" several years ago, some residents scoffed. No doubt the same thing happened recently when Yahoo Travel put the Finger Lakes on a worldwide list of 10 "lakeside vacations that have it all." I don't take such lists too seriously; I've been to seven of Yahoo Travel's top 10, and I can think of several others-for instance, Lake Mälaren in Sweden, the Hallstätter See in Austria and Lake Arenal in Costa Rica-that are equally deserving. But I'm just as sure the Finger Lakes truly belong in this league.
I'm also certain Rochester has a number of cultural attractions with well-deserved international reputations-among them the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film and the National Museum of Play at the Strong. And we have public spaces that many other cities would envy, such as the collection of Olmsted parks including Highland, Genesee Valley and Seneca.
Even at 100 pages, Explore Greater Rochester only scratches the surface of what makes this region stand out. Consider it a starting point; with information in hand, you take it from there.
5/24/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.