Port Washington is rolling out the welcome mat.
Business and hamlet leaders announced Friday that Port Washington has created a digital passport that offers deals to consumers. By downloading the so-called Downtown Deals Travel Pass, shoppers and visitors may access promotions at 10 Port Washington locations, including boat rental companies, eateries, a hotel and a preserve featuring historic mansions.
Port Washington is one of eight communities offering passes, which the tourism promotion agency Discover Long Island rolled out in September to encourage regional travel, according to president and CEO Kristen Reynolds.
“One of the silver linings of 2020 was that Long Island, in particular, became more familiar with what we have in our own backyard,” Reynolds said, while gathering with officials at the North Hempstead Town Dock, where a few boats traversed the Manhasset Bay. “People that have even lived on Long Island their whole lives have probably never been here to this spot.”
Reynolds noted that 55,000 people have visited the Downtown Deals website and more than 4,000 have downloaded promotional passports — roughly the same figure officials provided to Newsday nearly two months ago.
A handful of downtowns are waiting to launch their own passport programs, which Reynolds said shows the initiative’s success. Discover Long Island plans to partner next with Long Beach, Bethpage, Freeport, Fire island, Ocean Beach, Riverhead and Babylon.
Tourism is a $6.3 billion industry on the island, though the hospitality sector has suffered during COVID-19, Reynolds said.
Port Washington venues are ready to remind the tristate region that the hamlet has long been a retreat, according to William Gordon, president of the Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District.
“As the train service came in in the late 1800s, everybody was flocking out of the city. They didn’t go to the Hamptons, they went to Port Washington,” said Gordon, who owns a boating company. “We had hotels, beaches, cabanas, boating — all of that activity. We still have that.”
Mariann Dalimonte, who represents the hamlet in the North Hempstead Town Council, suggested visitors kayak, paddleboard, take a water taxi tour and enjoy seafood, including quahogs.
“It is a stuffed — huge — baked clam, and it’s like $5,” said Dalimonte, a fourth-generation Port Washington resident.