Tourism Funding Update
With under a month left of the regular session of the State Legislature, the State budget, including the portion supporting tourism, remains undetermined. Once again Governor Malloy has recommended zero funding for Regional Tourism but an increase of funding for centralized tourism promotion through the Department of Economic and Community Development. Recent data shows that tourism visitation to Connecticut is declining and that the intent of out of state residents to visit Connecticut is also in decline.
Since Governor Malloy removed funding for Regional Tourism Districts the Eastern Regional Tourism District – Mystic Country has been maintaining basic services including attending key trade shows with sponsoring partners, providing constituent assistance and maintain a public relations and social media presence. All of this is being done by volunteer service of former staff and Board members. Obviously this is not sustainable over the long term.
The State Office of Tourism has attempted to fill the void of regional tourism operations by assigning one staff person from the Central Office to work with the thousands of tourism constituents throughout the state. In addition, other organizations have jumped in to seize bits and pieces of the tourism promotion process that benefit their organization. Unfortunately these uncoordinated efforts do little to serve our customers, the people we wish to encourage as visitors. Regional Tourism and Central tourism efforts should not be a competition but instead ought to be a cooperation of effort, which has worked so effectively in the past.
The ultimate determination rests in the hands of the Legislators. We cannot afford to let other States and destinations lure Connecticut visitors away by neglecting the customer. Please contact your local Legislator and remind them that tourism in Connecticut depends on the local businesses and attractions and the support they receive.