OSWEGO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The coronavirus pandemic has caused almost every major event in New York State to be canceled this summer, and now business owners in those communities are feeling the effects of that lost income.
Harborfest in Oswego attracts nearly 100,000 people to The Port City each year, and it’s something local businesses count on.
“Harborfest is pretty much the premier event for the community,” John Sheffield, Business Development Manager for the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, said. “Whether you like Harborfest or not, economically, it’s a great boom to the area.”
Harborfest’s economic boost would have been greatly appreciated by business owners in the area this year, but instead, Harborfest’s cancellation just adds to the negative impacts of COVID-19.
Sheffield said, “I think it is safe to say that it is a significant portion of income for many businesses here in Oswego.”
Despite the pandemic, some hotel rooms are still being booked, but it’s not nearly what it would be in a normal year during this time in Oswego.
“Every hotel in town has sold out rooms generally at this point in time,” Sheffield said. “So, that means restaurants are full, local shop owners get more traffic, the other businesses that come in for Harborfest aren’t going to be able to have that money go into their pockets either.”
It’s been a rough year for business owners, but in Oswego, they’re already focusing on what’s next.
“For the conference center we have, we’ve just started to welcome visitors back to tour the facilities, and we are looking at 2021, 2022 and even 2023 for some of these events,” Sheffield said.
Sheffield and his team are even working on improvements to their facilities in order to attract more visitors once the pandemic is behind us.
“The other thing we have in the works for one of our river hotels, the Quality Inn & Riverfront, is we’re in the midst of building a $5 million indoor water park,” Sheffield said. “That construction is still going on, but I think our opening date has been pushed back a bit, but we’re still using the time to go ahead and do that construction.”
Hopefully, many business owners can survive the pandemic, and come out looking better than ever on the other side.
“I think on the behalf of all of us, I can say ‘thank you’ to the community in general, and the patrons and the customers who come in and have been so supportive during this time. Without them, the hospitality industry doesn’t exist,” Sheffield said.
The city of Oswego plans to get back on schedule and host Harborfest next year from July 22 to July 25.
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