The State of Tourism
Posted on by Kevin Bielmeier
If anyone has doubts as to the impact of tourism on the Connecticut economy, they may be assuaged by the impressive numbers* presented earlier this month at the Connecticut Conference on Tourism:
- $2.2 billion in tax revenue, including $960 million in state and local taxes
- 84,254 jobs directly related to tourism; 123,521 total jobs when including support activities
- $15.5 billion in total business sales, a 5.5% increase since the last study (2015)
- 6.7% increase in traveler spending over 2015, up 12.2% over the past 5 years
- Tourism is Connecticut’s 8th largest employer and may boast 7 years of consecutive growth
To an audience of professionals who work across the state in the tourism industry, it was preaching to the choir, but sometimes it is nice to hear that your contribution is being noticed.
Tourism: A Strong Economic Driver
Governor Ned Lamont, in his lunchtime remarks, articulated his appreciation of what a strong economic driver tourism has already proven to be for the state, and his commitment to finding even more ways to promote Connecticut as a great place to live, work and play.
A highlight of this annual event, aimed at celebrating the vibrant and growing tourism industry, was the presentation of the Connecticut Tourism Awards, recognizing those who went above and beyond to enhance both the appeal of our state, as well as the health of our economy.
Roger Brooks, a nationally renowned destination marketing specialist, provided an energetic and inspirational keynote address on the Seven Things You Can Do to Maximize Your Tourism Potential. He challenged all charged with marketing their municipalities, or businesses, to find the one or two things that set them apart, avoiding clichés and clutter-messaging that tries to be all things to everyone.
A robust offering of workshops on a range of topics from digital marketing to downtown revitalization to attracting multi-generational visitors, combined with a large Exhibitor Showcase, of which CERC was proud to be a part.
Along with the enthusiasm, the challenges that need to be addressed were not avoided. The state's declining marketing budget has put our competitiveness in this sector at a disadvantage. All the state's that surround us, apart from Vermont, outspend Connecticut by a wide margin, even Rhode Island. Simply put, more investment is needed to keep pace and grow this vital economic sector.
*2017 study by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company