Attracting Canadian Travelers to Upstate New York Destinations

How this Case Study may be relevant to you: This project involved attracting visitors beyond gateway cities, travel public relations, influencer marketing and media FAM planning for a multi-stakeholder collaborative effort.

We earned 7.74 million PR impressions from 15 media visits including feature placements in major in-market publications, and influencer placements.

Photo Credit: Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau
Photo Credit: Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau

Situational Analysis

Canada is the number one inbound international market for New York State. With 25% of all Canadians living in the Golden Horseshoe a region in Southern Ontario that includes Toronto and borders the northern shores of Lake Ontario.

Upstate New York destinations consider Canadian Travelers a top target market - specifically Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and other areas in the Ontario province.

The Challenge

After crossing the border, Canadian visitors typically stop in Buffalo, N.Y. on their way to New York City, and spend very little time in the other destinations across Upstate New York.

Photo Credit: Livingston County Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism
Photo Credit: Livingston County Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism


  • Build awareness of destinations in New York State between Buffalo and NYC.
  • To inspire travel and visitation among leisure travelers in Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, and surrounding areas within the Ontario province of Canada through media coverage of partner destinations and attractions.

Strategic Insight

Curiosity & Surprise.

Beyond Buffalo and New York City, destinations across Upstate New York are largely unknown to many Canadian visitors.  We aimed to pique Canadian visitors’ curiosity with a range of exciting offerings just over the border – and positively surprise them with  endless opportunities during their visit.


Photo Credit: John Kucko

Strategic Approach

  • Position Upstate New York as a destination of endless opportunities, found just across the border.
  • Highlight experiences, packages and events relevant to key audience segments within the Canadian market.
  • Build awareness of program partners among Canadian travelers.
  • Foster relationships with Canadian media.
  • Drive visitation from target markets to CO-OP partners websites to learn more.
Photo Credit: Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce
Photo Credit: Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce
Photo Credit: Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce
Photo Credit: Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce


  • Media Kit Development: a full suite of press kit materials including a one-sheet of top offerings/attractions for each partner in the program
  • Media Relations/Outreach: pitch Canadian media following an editorial calendar with key themes
  • Media Events/Deskside Visits: attending select media events and organizing deskside visits in the Ottawa and Toronto markets
  • Media FAM Hosting: work closely with partners to coordinate potential hosting opportunities as they arise, creating itineraries and securing post-visit coverage.
  • Tracking & Reporting: providing monthly and year-end reports


First Year Results

  • 9 media visits
  • 14 media placements
  • 48 social media placements
  • 1,240,000 media impressions.

Second Year Results

  • 6 media visits
  • 7 media placements
  • 43 social media placements
  • Over 6.5 million media impressions.


Photo Credit: John Kucko

Result Highlights

  • Feature piece in CAA Magazine (114,000 UVM) on new museum in partner county.
  • 20 Instagram posts by influencer Food.Diva (21.2K followers) and 32 Instagram posts by influencer LittleBlackPearls (14.2K Followers) featuring program partners.
  • Feature piece in Escapism Toronto (50,000 Circulation/206,000 UVM) on accommodations in a partner county.
  • Two feature pieces on program cities by (2,000,000 UVM).
  • Inclusion of 5 partner ski resorts in an online roundup by (2,000,000 UVM).
  • Two-page print spread in Foodism Toronto (50,000 UVM) that featured 1 program partner and 4 of its tourism assets.
  • Two-page print spread in Ottawa Life (200,000) that featured 1 program partner and 9 of its tourism assets.