The U.S. Travel Association and American Hotel and Lodging Association joined the growing list of business leaders and economists who see President Biden’s American Rescue Plan as critical to addressing the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
The travel industry supports 15.8 million or nearly 1 in 10 American jobs. In a report, the U.S. Travel Association noted in a report that COVID-19 has devastated the travel industry more than any other sector of the economy. In order to get Americans back to work and safely resume travel, the U.S. Travel Association President and CEO said that there has to be immediate action to pass the American Rescue Act.
Robert Dow, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO praised the American Rescue Plan in a speech yesterday, saying “We are encouraged by the measures to provide additional grants and loans to small businesses in the hardest-hit industries, which include travel. The Paycheck Protection Program is set to expire in March, but the economic hardships of the pandemic will persist, so it is important that struggling businesses continue to receive aid to maintain operations and keep workers on payrolls.”
Dow added “there are important components contained in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to help us rebuild, such as providing grants for the hardest hit industries, including travel. Also included in the President’s proposal is additional funding for vaccine distribution which we know is vital to helping travel businesses more robustly reopen.”
And, the market data analyst, STR, recently said that the American Rescue Plan’s proposal for widespread vaccinations would help get the industry back on track “these opening months of the year are going to resemble some of the :slowest of 2020, but we are optimistic that hotel demand will improve as vaccine distribution becomes more widespread and travel confidence grows,” said Amanda Hite, president of STR. “While the early indicators should be visible in Q2, we expect Q3 to be the point where leisure travel shifts into high gear and corporate and group business show more progressive improvement. That will feed into a 2022 that shows a higher level of recovery.”
Meanwhile, the American Hotel & Lodging Association released AHLA’s State of the Hotel Industry 2021” outlining the forecasted state of the hotel industry in 2021 and into the immediate future. The report examines the high-level economics of the hotel industry’s recovery, the specific impact on and eventual return of business travel, and consumer travel sentiments.
56% Expect to Travel for Leisure; Business Travel Not Expected to Return Until 2024; Consumer Comfort with Travel Linked to Vaccine Distribution
WASHINGTON – The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) released “AHLA’s State of the Hotel Industry 2021” outlining the forecasted state of the hotel industry in 2021 and into the immediate future. The bottom line is that the industry’s recovery is linked to the availability of COVID vaccinations.
The pandemic has been devastating to the hospitality industry workforce, which is down nearly 4 million jobs compared to the same time in 2019. While some 200,000 jobs are expected to be filled this year, overall, the accommodations sector faces an 18.9% unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, half of U.S. hotel rooms are projected to remain empty in 2021.
Business travel, which comprises the largest source of hotel revenue, remains nearly nonexistent, but it is expected to begin a slow return in the second half of 2021. Among frequent business travelers who are currently employed, 29% expect to attend their first business conference in the first half of 2021, 36% in the second half of the year and 20% more than a year from now. Business travel is not expected to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023 or 2024.
Leisure travel is expected to return first, with consumers optimistic about national distribution of a vaccine and with that an ability to travel again in 2021. The report found that heading into 2021, consumers are optimistic about travel, with 56% of Americans saying they are likely to travel for leisure or vacation in 2021. While 34% of adults are already comfortable staying in a hotel, 48% say their comfort is tied to vaccination in some way.
The top findings from this report include:
Hotels will add 200,000 direct hotel operations jobs in 2021 but will remain nearly 500,000 jobs below the industry’s pre-pandemic employment level of 2.3 million employees.
Half of U.S. hotel rooms are projected to remain empty.
Business travel is forecasted to be down 85% compared to 2019 through April 2021, and then only begin ticking up slightly.
56% of consumers say they expect to travel for leisure, roughly the same amount as in an average year.
Nearly half of consumers see vaccine distribution as key to travel.
When selecting a hotel, enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices rank as guests’ number two priority, behind price.
“COVID-19 has wiped out 10 years of hotel job growth. Yet the hallmark of hospitality is endless optimism, and I am confident in the future of our industry,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA.
“Despite the challenges facing the hotel industry, we are resilient. Hotels across the country are focused on creating an environment ready for guests when travel begins to return. AHLA is eager to work with the new Administration and Congress on policies that will ultimately help bring back travel, from helping small business hoteliers keep their doors open to ramping up vaccine distribution and testing. Together, we can bring back jobs and reignite a continued investment in the communities we serve,” said Rogers.
The resurgence of COVID-19, the emergence of new strains, and a slow vaccine rollout have added to the challenges the hotel industry faces this year. With travel demand continuing to lag normal levels, national and state projections for 2021 show a slow rebound for the industry and then accelerating in 2022.
The hotel industry experienced the most devastating year on record in 2020, resulting in historically low occupancy, massive job loss, and hotel closures across the country. Hotels were one of the first industries affected by the pandemic after travel was forced to a virtual halt in early 2020, and it will be one of the last to recover. The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry so far has been nine times that of 9/11.
MIAMI– An unprecedented 2020 was challenging for the travel industry and also provided valuable insight into travel trends for the year ahead and beyond. Club Med, a pioneer of the all-inclusive resort concept, is innovating products to align with anticipated trends for 2021, some of which will have lasting impact far into the future. These include working remotely with extended stays (workation); a demand for sustainable/responsible travel; flexible booking options.
“As the leader in all-inclusive vacations, Club Med continues to innovate through this challenging time by offering our guests the best in flexibility and safety,” says Carolyne Doyon, CEO and President of Club Med North America. “We’re utilizing our thoughtful and strategic analysis of 2020 learnings and 2021 market trends to deliver on travelers’ evolving wants and needs.”
A projected return to travel
Americans have started seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel” when it comes to travel. A recent Skift Research study reported that beginning in September 2020, for the first time during the pandemic, more Americans planned to increase their travel spend over the next 12 months. The most popular destinations include beaches and coastal drive-to markets.
While domestic travel continues to be preferred by the majority of travelers, a recent study conducted by Club Med found that 56% of travelers are looking to travel by Spring/Summer 2021 with most looking forward to returning to Turks and Caicos (47%) and Mexico (31%). Club Med has also seen significant interest in travelers who are booking for the 2021 holiday season. Considered “revenge bookings,” the trend indicates a strong interest in families getting together after canceled plans this last holiday season, with advance bookings for holidays at a 17% increase versus 2019.
The pandemic spurred increased domestic travel with Americans looking for shorter escapes closer to home. Through data compiled from recent sales, Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Florida saw a substantial increase in bookings in 2020 from travelers in drive-market regions. From June to December 2020, the resort reported 40% of travelers were from Florida.
However, according toThe New York Times, while interest in domestic travel is likely to continue through 2021, interest ininternational travel has increased since the news of the vaccine. Club Med is well equipped to meet this demand for years to come through the consistent growth of their international portfolio, marking three to five new resort openings or renovations per year, including a new Alpine ski resort annually. Each resort is constructed with a low-density layout – which is defined by low-rise buildings that are spread out across 50+ acres and respectfully integrated in their surrounding natural environments – leaving plenty of space for guests to roam freely and comfortably.
Exemplifying their eco-friendly positioning,Club Med is set to open their eco-certified Seychelles (Indian Ocean) resort in March 2021. This will be its newest Exclusive Collection luxury resort, respectfully integrated along a preserved Marine National Park. In harmony with nature, the resort will offer nature conservation experiences, like marine conservation and turtle nesting. Club Med Québec Charlevoix is also opening in December 2021, with bookings already well underway. Located just outside Québec City in Le Massif de Charlevoix region, the all-inclusive resort is Club Med’s first four-season mountain property with unparalleled waterfront views of the Saint Lawrence River, amazing year-round outdoor activity options, full ski-in/ski-out access, and spacious accommodations. Club Med anticipates seeing a high level of bookings from Americans, as the resort is easy for them to get to and more cost-effective than a do-it-yourself ski vacation – for example, a 7-night do-it-yourself ski vacation for a family of 4 to Whistler would cost approx. $9,900; while at Club Med Québec Charlevoix, a similar vacation would cost $4,500.
Working remotely with extended stays
Travelers have shown an appetite for escaping the pandemic restrictions at home and extending their stays at all-inclusive resorts where they can work or study remotely while also relaxing. In June 2020 Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Florida reported a 9% increase in bookings for “short week” getaways – meaning a 4 to 5-night reservation during the week rather than the traditional long weekend getaway. According to the Skift Megatrends report, the pandemic and the rise of remote work will likely further blur the lines between business and leisure travel. A significant hike in the length of stay in vacation rentals highlights how travelers have been looking at other places to stay and work during the pandemic. Club Med is adapting to this trend by setting up Workation, a hybrid stay between working remotely and a vacation with the all-inclusive service à la Club Med. This remote work and learn option has been available at Club Med Sandpiper Bay since October 2020, delivering adults and children the tools they need to work remotely, including: premium wi-fi, dedicated workspaces (or free to roam and setup beachside!) and printer access. Club Med is looking to launch the concept in additional resorts soon.
Low-density resorts with safety protocols
Travelers will continue taking increased precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19 and expect the travel industry to provide them with peace of mind by offering increased safety precautions. Worldwide, Club Med’s Safe Togetherprogram has established a range of enhanced health and safety protocols that include protective face coverings for staff, hand sanitizer available throughout the resort, deep cleaning and frequent sanitizing of surfaces and facilities, social distancing, capped resort capacity, increased amount ofalready-existent single plated foods in main dining area buffets, and temperature checks on arrival and periodically during the stay. All Club Med properties in Florida, the Caribbean, and Mexico are POSI-Check certified, receivingrecognition from Cristal for the Prevention of the Spread of Infection.
Travelers will also continue seeking destinations surrounded by nature, offering a variety of safe outdoor experiences. All of Club Med’s global resorts, including those in Florida, the Caribbean, and Mexico, meet this demand as they are low in density, spread across 50 acres of land and wide stretches of beaches, creating a sense of privacy and freedom. Each resort features multiple low-rise buildings that are only three stories high, sitting just below the treetops. To further accommodate social distancing practices, dining tables and lounge chairs throughout the resorts are more spaced out with an increased amount of outdoor seating, and activities and entertainment are also predominantly outdoors.
Travel in 2021 will be more touchless than ever. A recent Booking.com study showed 64% of travelers agree that technology will be important in controlling health risks when traveling and 63% say that accommodations will need to use the latest technologies to make travelers feel safe. Club Med’s Easy Arrivalcontactless check-in/check-out prepares guests to fully enjoy vacations immediately. From signing up children for childcare services to booking ski equipment ahead of time at Club Med’s ski properties, everything will be ready for guests as soon as they arrive at the resort. The My Club Med app also allows guests to enjoy a seamless experience from the start of their trip to the end, with options to create a personalized itinerary, preview the daily activity schedules and, at select resorts, guests can book spa appointments and order room service. Coming soon, in order to abide by the CDC’s new requirements for entry into the United States, travelers will also be able to schedule their PCR/Antigen testing.
Skift predicts travelers will continue seeking outdoor and wellness-centric destinations. An unspoiled paradise hidden in the heart of a Dominican palm grove, Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda is the first and only resort in Michès, offering guests a sense of intimacy and personalization. Set upon 93 acres with a 2,000-foot stretch of untouched beach, the resort’s architecture seamlessly and respectfully blends into its surroundings, featuring four boutique villages with distinct concepts designed to deliver tailored experiences for various segments. This ‘resort within a resort’ concept includes:
· Explorer Cove, a dedicated section designed for families with activities and kids clubs nearby
· Caribbean Paradise, the alluring heart of the resort surrounded by lush tropical gardens and colorful décor designed for both families, couples and singles alike
· Emerald Jungle, designed for wellness seekers with a natural Zen pool, spa, wellness bar and treetop wellness canopy
· Archipelago, created exclusively for adults featuring floor-level oceanfront suites with private pools, outdoor showers and infinite views of the ocean just steps away
Sustainability The pandemic has made many people aware of impacts on the environment and local communities. A Booking.comstudy found that more than 69% of travelers expect the travel industry to offer more sustainable options. Avid globetrotters are quickly getting behind the ‘go green’ initiative in tourism decisions and Club Med is proudly supporting the cause. In 2018, Club Med launched its Bye-Bye Plastics program, and is on track to ban single-use plastic products from bars, restaurants and rooms by 2021.
Tourism has a growing impact on the environment, which is why Club Med has always devoted itself to sustainable practices. Club Med’s Happy to Careprogram features a range of sustainable commitments based on values and practices which reflect sustainable development.
Club Med’s newest Exclusive Collection resort, Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, acts as the catalyst for Club Med’s environment-friendly positioning. Devoting its design, activities and elements to the surrounding region, the resort pays homage to the Dominican Republic’s ecological essence so guests who visit the resort can understand the natural beauty that first attracted many locals to the destination. The resort’s eco-chic concept is based on five core pillars: agriculture, immersion, waste management, energy and people.
Sustainability is at the heart of the resort with special programs and initiatives, including:
· No single-use plastics in the resort
· Locally sourced coffee and cacao products in the resort’s Coffee House, in partnership with local farmers
· Employee uniforms are created out of recycled plastic bottles (currently more than 200,000+ bottles have been recycled for this initiative)
· Programs have been implemented to provide more than 900 locals with language, vocational, and hospitality skill trainings
· Strict eco-friendly certifications from the best in the industry: BREEAM certification for the construction process, and Green Globe certification for the operations
· Solar panel project – an estimated 45,000 square feet of solar panels are being installed in the resort to generate renewable energy
· Programs to stimulate the local economy are underway via various farming development projects to increase the efficiency, quality and demand for local farmers
· In-resort plant nursery currently houses 30,000+ new plants, and more than 2,000 trees were preserved or re-planted during the construction process
· Family environmental workshops offer interactive, fun and educational sessions for parents and children to learn about the environment together and participate in hands-on gardening activities
Flexible travel options
According to the United States Tour Operators Association, the most frequently asked question by travelers who made new bookings this fall was regarding cancellation or refund policies. Flexible booking policies are anticipated to continue into 2021 and beyond. To ensure added flexibility and peace of mind for travelers, Club Med offers:
· Free Cancellation Policy: For new bookings made on or after May 18, 2020, guests can receive a full refund should they need to cancel their stay (up to 15 days prior to the anticipated travel date) for stays on or prior to December 16, 2021.
· Emergency Assistance Program: All guests traveling before December 31, 2022 will receive coverage for emergency medical expenses during their stay, including those related to COVID-19.
· PCR + Rapid Antigen Testing: As required for re-entry into the United States from international destinations, Club Med offers complimentary Rapid Antigen COVID-19 tests either on-site or off-site (dependent on the resort). PCR testing is also available at an additional cost.
Club Med, founded in 1950 by Gérard Blitz, is the pioneer of the all-inclusive concept, offering approximately 70 premium resorts in stunning locations around the world including North and South America, Caribbean, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean. Each Club Med resort features authentic local style and comfortably upscale accommodations, superior sports programming and activities, enriching children’s programs, gourmet dining, and warm and friendly service by its world-renown staff with legendary hospitality skills, an all-encompassing energy and diverse backgrounds.
Club Med operates in more than 30 countries and continues to maintain its authentic Club Med spirit with an international staff of more than 23,000 employees from more than 110 different nationalities. Led by its pioneering spirit, Club Med continues to grow and adapt to each market with three to five new resort openings or renovations per year, including a new Alpine ski resort annually.
As the travel industry looks ahead, brands are preparing for how to promote a responsible recovery to Covid-19. Luxury travel advisor network Virtuoso, with over 20,000 advisors and 2,000 travel brands in more than 50 countries, is focusing on a ‘conscious comeback’ as hotels reopen in new and innovative ways. CREST (Center for Responsible Travel) and six other global nonprofit organizations have banded together to form the Future of Tourism Coalition with the belief that travelers will demand a more sustainable tourism marketplace. As people look for ways to reduce their footprint, work more responsibly with travel companies, travel to more sustainable communities and better understand the communities they interact with, we have rounded up leading destinations who are laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future – and how travelers can get involved.
If you want to invest in local communities…
Napa Valley, CA
Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), a nonprofit trade association leading the wine region since 1944, has partnered with UNCF to create a new scholarship program for people of color to pursue college degrees in subjects ranging from grape growing, winemaking, marketing, business and more, investing $1 million into the program. Each year over the next five years, NVV will invest $200,000 in scholarships and will encourage its members to bolster the scholarship program with donations to help even more students and to ensure the effort extends beyond five years.
UXUA recruits and trains locals with little to no prior experience in hospitality. Owner Wilbert Das has invested in providing language training and university tuition reimbursement as well as one-on-one mentorship for those who need help in certain subjects that might have prevented them from completing secondary education. Despite classes being one-hour bus ride each way, three staff members completed their degrees in 2019, with 10 currently enrolled. Under the name of U-2020 initiative, the goal is to have 20 staff (out of 85) to complete or enroll in a university program by end-of-year 2020. UXUA also offers life coaching, including financial planning. As a result, 35 employees have bought land in the past six years.
Belmond helped found the Q’omer Wasicha Project in 2015 to promote organic vegetable management and cultivation in local communities as well as fair trade practices. Several communities in the Cusco region are now trained in the production of vegetables and herbs; the sustainable greenhouses allow the harvest of organic crops that would not usually survive the high altitudes of the Andes, including tomatoes, squash and zucchini.
In collaboration with Africa Foundation, andBeyond offers a Conservation Lesson program for both children and adults living in communities close to wildlife areas. Through the initiative, over 1,600 students in East Africa were able to visit andBeyond’s properties, learning firsthand about the wildlife conservation that takes place so close to their home – partaking in game drives with rangers, swimming with dolphins and witnessing turtles hatch. For many, this is the first time in their life they have been exposed to fauna in a meaningful way. These conservation lessons and interactions with andBeyond guides have been a turning point in many participants’ lives; instilling the passion and knowledge of wildlife conservation and community development in them and playing a major part in influencing their careers.
Belmond Eagle Island Lodge has worked with the nearby community village of Xaxaba Island to ensure potable drinking water for the community. Previously unavailable, Belmond donated a Jojo water tank, a leading solution in South Africa to provide safe water, as well as a bowser water tank to ensure a clean water source. Water is then regularly transported from the lodge to the village. Belmond has also assisted with providing medical assistance to the community through mobile clinics. Guests also have the opportunity to visit the neighboring Nxhoga village to learn more about the Khotla from the elders, the meeting and administration system, the cultural relevance of basket weaving and the importance of the fishing industry, witnessing how fishing nets are made.
Dr Hla Tun has been the onboard doctor for Belmond Road to Mandalay, which has been traveling along the Ayeyarwady River since 2004. In addition to his service for guests, Dr. Tun disembarks the river cruise three days per week to lead Belmond’s free health clinic that launched in 2011 as a free service to locals as well as patients who travel for miles on foot to receive medical attention.
If combatting climate change is your passion…
Just 200 years after the first man stepped foot on Antarctica, PONANT is launching the first electric luxury polar ship in 2021. It will be able to cut through ice floe up to seven feet thick – meaning it can reach rarely visited places like Peter I Island, where fewer people have visited than have set foot on the moon. It will operate with a mix of liquified natural gas (the cleanest fuel on the market) and electric battery (zero emission and can operate for up to eight hours at a time). Le Commandant-Charcot will be fitted with the latest technology for minimizing environmental impact, as well as a scientific laboratory for conducting operational oceanography missions and research. Under the supervision of naturalist guides and onboard scientists, guests will be able to participate in the research and experiments during sailings, including helping set up a research station on an ice floe; deploying an Argos transmitter, a satellite-based system which collects and shares environmental data; and taking water samples.
In the 1970s and 80s, Costa Rica had one of the highest rates of deforestation in Latin America, but it has since reversed that trend and embraced reforestation. This was largely because of the government’s commitment to the cause, making it illegal in 1996 to chop down trees without approval from authorities. They also launched PES, a program that pays farmers to protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity, or capture carbon dioxide. This has positively impacted tourism. According to the tourism board, over 60% of visitors site nature as a reason for coming. The national parks and protected areas cover over a quarter of the country’s land. Nayara Resorts is committed to the cause. Their newest property, Nayara Tented Camp, sits on a hillside that was completely deforested by farmers over 50 years ago. Nayara hired a reforestation expert to rebuild the rainforest – which began with the planting of 40,000 indigenous trees.
Chris Blackwell’s Oracabessa Foundation is restoring the coral reef as a means to bring back marine life. In recent years, through the Foundation’s efforts, the Bay saw an increase of fish presence by 1,800 percent. Because of its success, the template is being replicated in other fish sanctuaries across Jamaica. New this year, Blackwell’s hotel GoldenEye in partnership with the Oracabessa Foundation opened a new dive shop that is open to locals as well as guests, offering coral planting opportunities, with profits going back into the foundation.
Coral bleaching from factors like climate change and El Niño has led to the death of 60-90% of the Maldivian reefs. As the only luxury property that is located both on the beach and on a coral reef, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi offers guests the chance to adopt a coral frame ($175 USD per frame) during their stay. The coral frames are built using broken coral fragments found on local reefs, which are then rehabilitated in the property’s coral nursery and left to grow and regain their health.
If you want to save endangered animals…
Iguassu Falls, Brazil
When Belmond took over the Hotel dasCataratas in 2007, it not only invested in the hotel itself, but in the surrounding Iguassu National Park. The company committed 4 million Brazilian Reals to help update the park’s electricity supply, redesign the old park entrance and build a bicycle path from the gate to the hotel. It also donated 1.4 million Brazilian Reals towards the Projeto Onças do Iguaçu (Jaguars of Iguassu Project) to help preserve the last of the area’s jaguars. Ten years ago the population of these big cats was in sharp decline. The Jaguars of Iguassu Project installed night vision cameras around the park and used tracking devices fitted onto captured and released animals to study their behaviors and devise programs to improve their survival and breeding rates. Since the Jaguars of Iguassu Project began the number of jaguars has increased from around 9 to at least 28 (census of 2019). After exploring the national park, guests can stop by the hotel’s boutique and purchase a stuffed jaguar where a portion of the proceeds continue to support the project.
Pangolins are mini (and adorable) dinosaur-like mammals. While not commonly known in the U.S., these native African anteaters are covered in keratin scales, which are highly valuable to poachers, making them the most trafficked mammal in the world. The species used to roam freely in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, but have been locally extinct for decades. Private groups at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve can have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with these elusive creatures with andBeyond’s Pangolin Conservation Experience and assist in replacing tags and monitoring behavior.
If you want to lead by example…
Gregory Miller is a leader in responsible tourism, an expert in public-private partnerships and a trained environmental scientist who believes in working globally, acting locally, and protecting our precious natural and cultural resources. Greg joined CREST as Executive Director in 2019, bringing to the organization a global track record of high-impact results in sustainable travel and recreation, biodiversity conservation, and policy development. He is also a founder of the newly formed Future of Tourism Coalition, as well as the Outdoor Alliance, National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, and Parks in Peril program.
Joss Kent joined andBeyond in January 2012 and brought with him a passion for working with local communities and preserving land and wildlife. He came to andBeyond after several years as CEO of Abercrombie & Kent. Starting his career as a game ranger, Joss has gone on to champion leading sustainability and community initiatives including Ocean Without Border and Rhinos Without Border and continuing a partnership with the Africa Foundation to work with local communities to fill their needs, from building schools to creating water filtration systems.
Cindy Pawlcynis the chef behind Mustards Grill, a Napa Valley landmark for more than 30 years. She opened the restaurant when the region was still largely pasture, with few restaurants and even fewer chefs (none whom were women!). Then, at 28 years old, Pawlcyn was also among the first to plant an organic garden outside her restaurant. Today, Mustards is still a Napa favorite, and has served more than one million pork chops – her signature dish.
Charity Cheruiyotwas the first female safari ranger in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Having grown up in a small village as a member of the Kalenjin tribe, Charity paved her own way to a future in the bush. She now is a favorite ranger among guests of andBeyond Bateleur Camp, teaching the brand’s values of care of the land, wildlife, and people.
Wilbert Das, the former creative director at Diesel, founded UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa in Trancoso, Brazil. Today, Wilbert’s life in Trancoso extends far beyond the (unmarked) entrance of UXUA. As the town’s “unofficial mayor,” he is steadfast in his support of the community and proves that eco-conscious efforts and a propensity for high design are not mutually exclusive.
Eleven projects preserving New York State’s history, ranging from an eighteenth-century Dutch barn rehabilitation to an artist installation memorializing black lives at John Brown Farm State Historic Site, have received 2020 State Historic Preservation Awards.
Created in 1980, the State Historic Preservation Awards are awarded by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation each year to honor excellence in the protection and revitalization of historic and cultural resources. The Governor also signed legislation in 2013 to bolster state use of rehabilitation tax credits, which have spurred billions of dollars in completed investments of historic commercial properties and tens of millions in owner-occupied historic homes.
“The 2020 New York State Historic Preservation Awards help bolster efforts to keep New York’s storied history protected and accessible to all,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.”These historic projects demonstrate the diversity of lived New York experiences since our state’s founding. New York is thankful to the dedicated stewards of each site, who provide invaluable support by devoting countless hours to the protection of historic sites for all to learn from and enjoy.”
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The diversity of the projects being recognized demonstrates that preservation begins with passionate local individuals expanding their advocacy into productive partnerships. We are proud to be one of those partners and congratulate all of the individuals and groups for their extraordinary efforts to preserve these historic places.”
This year’s 2020 State Historic Preservation Awards recipients are:
Binghamton Carnegie Library, Broome County
Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation
The former Carnegie Library in downtown Binghamton was transformed into SUNY Broome’s Culinary and Events Center serving the school’s hospitality programs. The $21.5 million dollar rehabilitation project successfully made use to commercial tax credits to revitalize the historic building into a state-of-the art education and event facility.
Cropsey Barn, New City, Rockland County
Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation & Conservation
The Cropsey family has made an extraordinary commitment in the rehabilitation and long-term use of a New York State and National Register listed property. In fear of losing an agricultural site to sprawl, the family transferred ownership of their eighteenth-century barn and land to the county with a restrictive covenant ensuring its agricultural future. Working with a group of traditional trades craftspeople and building conservators, the barn had been fully restored and is now used by the local County Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) association for planting and harvesting organically grown products.
Holley Gardens, Village of Holley, Orleans County
Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation
Constructed between 1930 and 1931, the former Holley High had been vacant since 1975. In 2020, Home Leasing and Edgemere Development completed a dramatic rehabilitation of the building that has created 41 affordable housing units for seniors and new office and meeting space for the village government. The developers utilized both the state Historic Tax Credit and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs to assist with the adaptive reuse.
Dr. Ferguson’s House, Glens Falls, Warren County
Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation
When Dr. Ferguson’s House became threatened with demolition, local preservationists Darren & Lisa Tracy stepped in to rescue it. With careful planning and cooperation, the Tracys rehabilitated the 1870 National Register-listed building using Federal & State Historic Tax Credits for use as an apartment building, thereby saving an important community treasure.
Onderdonck-Tallman-Budke House, Clarkstown, Rockland County
Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation
Constructed between the 1790s and 1870s, and last occupied in the 1930s, the Onderdonck-Tallman-Budke House had fallen into disrepair. With the help of town funds, the historic sandstone Dutch house was painstakingly restored and serves as an educational resource in Clarkstown’s Germonds Park.
Fire Watchtower at Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem, New York City
Excellence in Historic Structure Rehabilitation
Known to many as the Harlem Fire Watchtower, the 1856 cast iron structure at Marcus Garvey Park is a community landmark owned by the City of New York. Spurred by citizen advocacy, a public-private partnership was established to restore Watchtower, which resulted in sizable contributions from the New York City Council, Mayor, and Borough President’s offices. The resulting rehabilitation preserves an enduring symbol of Harlem’s identity and historic legacy.
Carnegie Libraries of New York City
Excellence in Historic Documentation
What began in 2009 as a project by the Historic Districts Council to survey Carnegie Libraries in New York City, culminated in the creation of a Multiple Property Documentation Form that was approved by the National Park Service in September 2020. Establishing the significance of these resources facilitates future listings for these beloved community buildings.
Mary E. Bell House, Center Moriches, Long Island
Excellence in Organizational Achievement
The restoration and historic registers listing of the Mary E. Bell House preserves a history of black landownership on Long Island during the nineteenth century and documents the central role of women within the Moriches African American community. Constructed in 1872, the home was occupied by the Smith and Bell families for more than 100 years. Owner Mary Bell rose to prominence in the community for her association with the Moriches AME Zion Church. By 2011, the house had fallen into disrepair. The town of Brookhaven acquired the property and a formal agreement with the Ketcham Inn Foundation was entered to restore the building, which now operates as historic site.
Village of Heuvelton, St. Lawrence County
Excellence in Archeology Stewardship
The Village of Heuvelton unexpectedly discovered several historic burials of the former village “old cemetery” during a water tank and sewer rehabilitation project. Through careful research and coordination with agencies involved, the village successfully and sensitively navigated the challenges of excavating the human remains for further study and re-interment.
Memorial Field for Black Lives, John Brown Farm State Historic Site, Essex County
Excellence in Historic Site Interpretation and Public Engagement
Working with the not-for-profit group John Brown Lives!, Artist Karen Davidson Seward created the Memorial Field for Black Lives as a space to acknowledge the struggle for equality in America in response to the brutal murders of unarmed Black Americans and widespread protests this summer. The exhibit debuted at John Brown Farm State Historic Site, the home and final resting place of an abolitionist who gave his life to end slavery.
Excellence in Historic Preservation Organizational Achievement
2020 was unprecedented in its impacts to communities across New York State. The state’s preservation organizations rose to the challenge of programming during a global pandemic and tumultuous political year. Their ingenuity, resilience, and creativity proved that preservation is imperative to quality of life and will be essential in navigating the path to economic recovery.
New York’s Division for Historic Preservation helps communities identify, evaluate, preserve and revitalize their historic, archeological, and cultural resources. The Division works with governments, the public, and educational and not-for-profit organizations to raise historic preservation awareness, to instill in New Yorkers a sense of pride in the state’s unique history and to encourage heritage tourism and community revitalization.
New York’s State parks, historic sites, campgrounds, and trails welcomed a record-setting 78 million visits in 2020. The milestone marks nine years of steady visitor growth and represents an overall increase of 34 percent, or more than 20 million visitors since Governor Andrew Cuomo took office in 2011.
“In 2020, our State parks became an even more critical resource than before as New Yorkers sought safe places for solace, exercise and relief from the pandemic,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York remains fully committed to the continued modernization of our parks system, and with the recent completion of the 750-mile Empire State Trail, we are ensuring New Yorkers and visitors alike, have unparalleled recreational opportunities, especially during these unprecedented times.”
“In what has been a tremendously difficult year, our State parks have remained open for residents and visitors to enjoy, get out of the house and stay active,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “As we reimagine New York for the post-pandemic future, we will continue to improve our State parks to not only provide more recreational opportunities for New Yorkers, but also boost our local downtowns and regional tourism economies across the State.”
New York State Parks saw estimated visitation grow from the previous record of 77.1 million visits in 2019 to 78 million in 2020. The increase was driven by unprecedented visitation in the spring and fall, as New Yorkers turned to nearby State parks, trails and historic sites to escape the pandemic. Visitation during the summer, typically the busiest time in the park system, was held in check as State park beaches, pools, historic sites and trailheads operated with reduced capacity limits put in place to protect visitor health and promote social distancing. Attendance at some of the park system’s traditionally most popular destinations was also impacted by limits on out-of-state and international visitors; cancelation of large concerts, festivals and events; and public messages urging people to recreate locally.
Building on the success of the NY Parks 2020 initiative, Governor Cuomo announced in his 2021 State of the State agenda that New York will launch NY Parks 100, renewing the historic commitment to investing and expanding the State park system by committing at least $440 million over the next four years. This critical period of revitalization will culminate in the 2024 celebration of the 100th anniversary of the State Park Act, which first created our nation-leading State park system in 1924 under Governor Al Smith. NY Parks 100 will continue crucial investments in park infrastructure while enhancing opportunities to reach the full range of New York State’s recreational and cultural offerings, including local parks and trails, regional flagship parks and historic sites, and vast wilderness parks. The initiative will focus on creating places to recreate locally, relieving overcrowded parks, welcoming new visitors, and protecting New York State’s environmental and historic legacy. This new plan will ensure people from all communities and across all ages and abilities can fully experience our outdoors, our culture, and our heritage.
“Governor Cuomo deserves great credit for ensuring safe and healthy outdoor recreation remained available to New Yorkers during 2020,” Erik Kulleseid, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said. “As other park systems were closing at the start of the pandemic, Governor Cuomo focused on taking the necessary precautions to open them safely. Our state parks and open spaces proved to be true sanctuaries for people to escape inactivity and isolation during this difficult year.”
“New York’s State Parks system has long offered compelling attractions for visitors and residents alike in a safe and socially responsible setting,” New York State Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said. “Last year provided families with the perfect opportunity to rediscover the natural beauty and world-class amenities of our State Parks in their own backyard, and more visitors than ever before chose to experience what people from around the world have raved about for years.”
For a listing of campgrounds operated by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, visit https://parks.ny.gov/camping/. Campgrounds in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks overseen by the Department of Environmental Conservation operate on a different schedule. To book a spot in the state campground, go to https://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com/. (If you are closed out, you can look to some of the private campgrounds, such as Kampgrounds of America (koa.com).
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518-474-0456. Also, connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
DRIVEABLE ADVENTURES: HIKING/CAMPING IN THE ‘GRAND CANYON OF THE EAST’ – NY’S LETCHWORTH STATE PARK
DRIVEABLE GETAWAYS: HIKING THE HUDSON RIVER SCHOOL ART TRAIL IN THE GREAT NORTHERN CATSKILLS
NEW YORK’S EMPIRE STATE TRAIL COMES TOGETHER: BIKING THE WALLKILL VALLEY RAIL TRAIL IN HUDSON VALLEY
NEW YORK’S 750-MILE EMPIRE STATE TRAIL, LONGEST MULTI-USE STATE TRAIL IN NATION, OFFICIALLY OPENED!
NEW YORK STATE PARKS, CAMPGROUNDS, BEACHES REOPEN JUST IN TIME TO SAVE SUMMER