Over the past few weeks the State of Connecticut has implemented major changes in its approach to promoting the state as a tourism destination. As of July 1, 2016 the Governor eliminated funding to promote regional tourism marketing in cooperation with statewide marketing in favor of a centralized statewide approach managed entirely by the Department of Economic Development Office of Tourism. The elimination of funding to the three regional tourism districts in the FY 2017 budget – voted for and signed by the Governor – was made possible by a special authority granted to the Governor by the Legislature.
It is important to note that the action by the Governor DID NOT ELIMINATE the regional tourism districts but instead only eliminated the State’s financial support for the upcoming fiscal year.
Clearly this action will have an impact on the marketing and promotion of Eastern Connecticut in the upcoming year. The Eastern Regional Tourism District (ERTD) has marketed our region under the trademarked brand “Mystic Country” for the past 34 years. By producing materials such as the Mystic Country Visitors Guide, themed trails, event calendars, and brochures; attending trade shows for meetings and groups; placing paid advertising; creating and curating social media content including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more; managing media and news relations; and most recently agreeing to provide content to the state/regional tourism website CTvisit.com, the ERTD has measurably improved visitation to our area. Without funding we will not be able to continue all of these vital tourism functions.
What is Ahead for 2017?
Immediately upon notice of the Governor’s action steps were taken to maintain to the fullest extent possible our marketing and promotion efforts for 2016. This included reducing staff thru layoffs and furlough days, cancelling planned printing of materials, severely restricting distribution of materials, eliminating all but essential mailing and seeking assistance from industry partners to maintain key activities. While the Western and Central Regional Tourism Districts have been forced to suspend operations as funds were depleted, the ERTD has been able to avoid total suspension due to budgeted reserves and spending reductions. It is inevitable, however, that without State support we will be forced to suspend operations at sometime as well. Our goal is to prolong that suspension of services for as long as possible.
The Board and staff of the Eastern Regional Tourism District are sincerely appreciative of the support received from our constituents and legislative representatives. As we move into 2017 we plan to:
Please be assured that it is our intent to continue to serve our visitors and constituents throughout the upcoming year. Do not hesitate to contact our office for whatever questions or assistance you may require.
Ed Dombroskas, Executive Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Janice Putnam, Marketing & Sales Manager: email@example.com
Rita Rivera, Social Media & Communications Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Mancino, Tourism Operations Director: email@example.com
27 Greemanville Ave, Mystic, CT 06355