Herkimer County Diamond Mine: How COVID-19 Has Affected Tourism

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HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y. (WUTR-TV) — COVID-19 has made this summer very different from the last. Trips and activities were canceled so some people began to explore local alternatives that could be enjoyed while following the governor’s guidelines. In Herkimer County, one business has had increased tourism despite the pandemic.

“We’re getting so many phone calls within an hour to an hour and half radius of people who have lived here for so many years who’ve never been here. If you have to have a silver lining then in this pandemic terrible cloud, that’s what it is. Many more people are beginning to understand what’s in their own backyard and they’re treasuring it.” – Dr. Renée Scialdo Shevat President/Owner, Herkimer Diamond Mines

According the the Kampground of America, RV purchases have significantly increased and 60% of travelers see the importance of spending time outside. At the Herkimer County KOA 18% of their normal market are international tourists, and obviously that couldn’t happen this year. Many travel restrictions are still in place, so residents are choosing to vacation at nearby campgrounds.

“They’re buying more RV’s or 5th wheels, which they’ve never driven before and experiencing the outdoors… people are buying tubes and experiencing the West Canada Creek and the majestic waterfront that we have here on the property.” – Dr. Renée Scialdo Shevat, President/Owner, Herkimer Diamond Mines

Right across the street is the Herkimer Diamond Mine Resort. Since the pandemic they’ve had a lot more people regionally coming in for a ‘daycation’. The great thing is that they’ve always had social distance practices in place for safety reasons for anyone mining.

“Just the experience of being your family in an outdoor environment where you don’t really have to worry about the social distancing because we’ve been doing social distancing here at the mines for 40 years. It’s a natural habitat to social distance in. You don’t bring your hammers out to the mines and have someone right next to you a foot away.” – Dr. Renée Scialdo Shevat, President/Owner, Herkimer Diamond Mines

However, there were some challenges. They’ve had to limit the number of people allowed in the campgrounds and in the mines. They also closed their museum and canceled a lot of annual events, but some of these changes ended up being a success.

“We’ve never had outdoor dining at our restaurant. It has been so successful that we’re probably going to permanently have some outdoor dining as we go into future seasons… We are putting out what we call an ‘Amazing Race’ with families. They are just loving that opportunity and it has created such excitement.” – Dr. Renée Scialdo Shevat, President/Owner, Herkimer Diamond Mines

The KOA campground and Herkimer Diamond Mine are both open 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm until November 1st.

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