Ever since Long Island entered Phase 4 of reopening, Village of Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand has been proud of how his community has latched onto public health mandates that has made his downtown a safe place for both residents and visitors. These efforts have been enough to make Farmingdale a must-visit destination that was included on the Downtown Deals Travel Pass, a new free mobile app spearheaded by Discover Long Island (DLI) and both the Nassau and Suffolk County IDAs (Industrial Development Agencies).
Roughly 100 companies in Great Neck, Rockville Centre, Greenport, Huntington, Patchogue and Farmingdale signed up to be part of this program designed to boost recovery efforts across the region, providing economic stimulus through incentivized marketing efforts for small businesses, restaurants, and attractions in an easy, mobile-friendly way. It’s an initiative that holds specific significance, given how summer rituals have been upended in unforeseen and unprecedented ways by the pandemic. Ekland for one is thrilled to see his community be part of this app.
“I’m really honored that the village is going to be included in this app for stay at home vacations,” he said. “I think it’s phenomenal.”
At www.discoverlongisland.com/deals, participants can sign-up for a Downtown Deals Travel Pass. A link is then sent to their mobile phone, which opens the passport and directs the user to add the button icon to their home screen, where they can access it any time. There is never anything to download and minimal space is taken up on a user’s phone. Once the user is ready to redeem their pass, they simply hand their phone over at the ticketing or checkout counter to access their deal. The program being driven by DLI, the region’s official destination marketing and management organization charged with furthering the tourism economy. It’s an out-of-the-box approach DLI president and CEO Kristen Jarnagin felt was needed at a time when the economy is reeling.
“The $6.1 billion hospitality industry has been the hardest hit industry in our region as a result of COVID-19 and the small businesses in our downtowns need immediate assistance to drive economic recovery,” she said. “We encourage residents and visitors to utilize this digitized platform to explore the endless hidden gems in the vibrant downtowns that are the fabric of our community.”
Ekland feels efforts like encouraging social distancing and mask wearing for all are a big part of what have made his community an attractive and safe destination in the summer months. About 18 A-frame signs advocating social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing have been spread throughout the downtown area, pocket parks and wherever people are congregating. In addition, outdoor eating has been embraced and local non-dining businesses have worked hard to ensure their neighboring eateries maximize any available space.
“Many of the merchants are letting their neighbors use their sidewalk and/or loading zone to do outdoor dining,” Ekstrand said. “We’re all responding in a very responsible way. I think it’s great that the businesses are working with each other to network and promote each other.”
Most importantly, residents are buying into these public health mandates.
“Greater than nine in 10 people are wearing masks,” Ekstrand said. “People in Farmingdale are self-policing about masks, which is also very good.”
Visit www.DiscoverLongIsland.com/Deals to sign-up for the Downtown Deals Travel Pass and view a listing of businesses and deals currently available. Contact email@example.com if you are interested in learning more about the program.