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Plans are being formulated for development along the Erie Canal and for an "I Love New York" advertising campaign, area tourism groups were told Thursday.

Nearly 300 tourism representatives and legislators gathered at the Comfort Inn for a reception during which ideas were exchanged, political leaders lobbied.

Leonard J. Deprima, Buffalo Division director for the Thruway Authority, said the development plans for the canal will be issued in the fall.

"Seven points of interest will be funded," he said. "Among them will be the Tonawandas and Rochester. It will include the development of boating, landside development and tourism."

He said the authority has hired professionals to do the promotion and "we'll know exactly where we're moving." He said the promotion "will capture the historic past and tie it in with the beauty and accessibility of the canal."

Joan Lapp, deputy commissioner for the state Department of Economic Development, said the "I Love New York" campaign will start in mid-May. She said it will include a series of radio, television and print commercials.

"Rather than one of two commercials that try to cram a dozen attractions into 30 seconds," she said, "we will be featuring such attractions as road trips, water vacations, New York City and historic trips."

With each commercial, that will focus on one area of the state, there will be a tag that offers places to obtain additional information on the same subject in other areas of the state.

Ms. Lapp said the commercials will be shown in major markets throughout New York State as well as in the adjoining states. "Most of our tourists come from right here in New York," she said.

Dennis M. Pasiak, small business deputy for the U.S. Defense Department, said area chambers of commerce and visitors bureaus should look to government agencies for business. He said such groups as veterans organizations, meetings of federal departments and training seminars are lucrative sources of tourists.

Doreen O'Connor, chairwoman of the Niagara Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau, told Pasiak, "You're not getting out of this building until I get to talk with you. That's what we need -- ambassadors to go to their meetings and bring back a convention or seminar."

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