State Will Spend $1.2 Million to Attract Visitors to Tourism Industry This Summer
Describing tourism as the “supersector” of the state’s economy hardest hit by the coronavirus-related closures, social distancing and restrictions on travel, Connecticut is putting more than one million dollars behind a marketing campaign to boost the industry as it begins to reopen in the coming days and weeks.
Even as Gov. Lamont, state and local officials repeatedly remind residents to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and continue efforts to contain the transmission of COVID-19, the state is hoping to “inspire visits during the summer as well as into the fall,” urging people living in Connecticut – and beyond – to visit attractions here, and do so soon.
The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and its Office of Tourism (COT) have announced plans for a new $1.2 million marketing campaign to help reinvigorate revenues for the thousands of tourism businesses across the state impacted by temporary closures driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. The marketing blitz begins on Monday, June 22 and will continue through Labor Day.
According to the State Department of Labor, all of the ten major industry supersectors in Connecticut lost significant employment in April, compared with a year ago. The Leisure and Hospitality sector was hardest hit, with employment down 50%, losing 72,500 positions.
The fact sheet announcing the campaign plainly states that “For the economic health of Connecticut — as well as the emotional health of our residents, we need to support the reopening of our many tourism-related businesses.”
As recently as 2017, Connecticut’s tourism industry had one of its strongest years in the past decade, posted $15.5 billion in total business sales, which was a 5.5% increase over 2015 and bringing in $2.2 billion in tax revenues, including $960 million in state/local taxes. At the time, tourism was the 8th largest employment sector in the state. In 2018, the state’s tourism website, www.ctvisit.com, received an 5.4 million visits and drove over 3 million referrals (calls, clicks, emails) to tourism destinations, according to DECD data. By last year, visits to the site had grown to 7 million.
“We know our state’s tourism and hospitality-related businesses have been extremely challenged by this pandemic,” said DECD Commissioner David Lehman. “But we also know they are particularly well-positioned to capitalize on the pent-up consumer demand to get out and do things again without having to travel too far from home.”
With a campaign theme of, “So Good to See You, Connecticut,” the marketing initiative will encourage both Connecticut residents and prospective travelers from New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts to explore all Connecticut has to offer through fresh eyes, according to DECD officials. It seeks to “reassure visitors that Connecticut businesses are so ready to welcome them back safely; raise awareness of all Connecticut has to offer so close to home for both day trips and overnight stays; and drive revenues to businesses as they reopen.”
Hotels in Connecticut are reopening this week, as the state moves into Phase Two of its reopening plan. In addition, restaurants can now start serving indoors, and theaters, gyms, museums, zoos, aquariums and amusement parks are eligible to open. Many have announced plans to do so over the next few weeks.
The overall messaging is to include new content on CTvisit.com, the state’s official tourism website, and will be promoted through various media platforms and tactics, including:
paid social media campaigns across Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest
paid search marketing and content seeding programs
a new video series showcasing how tourism businesses have adapted their operations to optimize visitors’ safety and enhance their experience
a new TV campaign that will run in-state as well as on streaming TV in nearby states, to begin next month
The marketing campaign plans to feature a variety of hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, attractions, museums, wineries, breweries, arts and cultural organizations, historical sites, nature centers that have reopened across the state, officials indicated. The state is urging tourism and hospitality businesses to self-certify at https://business.ct.gov/recovery that they are complying with Connecticut’s COVID-19 prevention guidelines, which vary depending on the type of business; then post the COVID-19 prevention badge/poster at their property and/or on the business website. They are also seeking new images related to tourism businesses – particularly those that highlight new safety precautions being taken – for inclusion on the state website to aid in promoting tourism across the state.
“Connecticut’s tourism businesses all across the state are working so hard and so creatively to provide a safe environment and a great experience for guests,” said Randy Fiveash, director of the Office of Tourism. “It’s our job to help them effectively and cost efficiently spread the word that Connecticut is open for business — and drive more visitors back through their doors.”
Source: CT By The Numbers