Connecticut’s Growing Tourism, Arts, and Culture Industry [Commentary]

August 30, 2006

One of the most forgotten sources of revenue for the State of Connecticut is its tourism industry. Connecticut is a diverse State with hundreds of wonderful destinations for people of all ages and all locations. That so many people visit Connecticut each year, especially during these summer months, is no accident.

A few years ago, Connecticut completely revamped its tourism marketing. It created a new state agency on Culture and Tourism. The goal was to not only maximize the state’s tourism, arts, and culture dollars, but to better promote Connecticut to residents and tourists alike and provide them with information about all this great state has to offer.

Connecticut over the years had a varying number of tourism districts, from as many as 19 a several years ago to even 11 just a few years back, both of which were far too many for the state of this size. When the new commission was formed, it was decided that the 11 districts would be consolidated into five. This more effective organization has helped the state use your tax dollars more efficiently and in turn, arts groups, attractions, and businesses have seen increases in visitorship and revenue.

This year alone, the agency invested $600,000 in the state’s tourism industry, which included a six-week television campaign in the New York metropolitan market. The ads ran on major network and cable stations through early August. With gas prices still high, the ads emphasized many of the destinations in Connecticut that one can drive to on less than one tank of gas. Early indications are that the campaign has been a success.

Tourism accounts for millions of dollars of revenue for the State and has a big role in supporting the overall economy. According to Governor Rell, tourism accounts for nearly 150,000 jobs in the state and each dollar invested in tourism brings back an incredible $51 in return. Industry data suggests that tourism has a $10 billion economic impact on the state and helps generate over $70 million in hotel occupancy taxes annually.

The key reason that tourism is such a big industry is, or course, because of the hundreds of fantastic destinations in the State and the rich arts and cultural climate Connecticut maintains. The Commission on Culture and Tourism does a great job highlighting it all on its website at www.tourism.state.ct.us. Whether it is weekly update regarding what events are occurring in your area of the State or opportunities for cultural and arts organizations and businesses to apply for state funding, the commission’s website covers it all. It is a great resource to consult prior to your next vacation or weekend getaway.

If you have additional questions about the Commission on Arts, Culture, and Tourism or on any state matter, please feel free to call my office toll-free at 1(800) 841-1421 or e-mail me at [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you.