CT Tourism Board Plans to Launch Tourism Websites

Two years after the COVID-19 virus cratered tourism nationwide, Connecticut is trying to attract a new kind of visitor — workers with the flexibility and financial means to work remotely for extended periods. , who might consider a long-term rental in a Connecticut town within reach of family-friendly activities.

The CEO of the state’s leading marketing agency mentioned the initiative on Tuesday among several new forays by the state to increase its visibility with vacationers, while speaking to members of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council on Tuesday afternoon. . On Tuesday, Governor Ned Lamont’s office announced that Connecticut had become the first state to join the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association’s “Global Partner” program.

While Connecticut has long benefited from the tourist magnets of the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casino resorts, the state’s Office of Tourism now hopes to gamble in other locations — specifically, cities and towns that have a range activity, according to Jill Adams, CEO of Avon-based marketing agency Adams & Knight, who spoke Tuesday in Bridgeport.

The state plans to launch a series of enhanced tourism websites for a number of cities and towns to interest more people in fully exploring these communities, perhaps on extended stays.

Adams said it could help attract “digital nomads” in his own words, who might consider Connecticut a remote work destination for weeks at a time, using it as a jumping off point for business excursions. a day in New England and New York.

“These are people who can actually work from anywhere,” Adams said Tuesday. “We’re seeing more focus on, ‘Hey, I’m going to pick out a place to stay for a month. … Hopefully we can bring some of these people to Connecticut.

In its annual survey of employers, the Society for Human Resources Management found that fewer companies that have remote work policies reported problems hiring or retaining workers, compared to those that have policies. hybrids or that require employees to report to the facilities to work.

And many self-employed and freelancers have a great deal of autonomy in choosing where to live while they work, as their budget and life circumstances allow.

It’s one of many new initiatives at the Connecticut Office of Tourism, whose new director, Noelle Stevenson, is entering her first summer in the role of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development. Stevenson brings years of experience in the mecca of American tourism: Florida, where she worked for both the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

While nonprofit tourist sites provide a historical overview of their revenue over the past several years through filings with the Internal Revenue Service, assessing the current health of Connecticut’s tourist economy is an imprecise exercise, without a single stream of tax revenue or number of turnstiles capturing the total amount spent by residents and visitors.

The CTvisit.org website generated 2.4 million referrals to Connecticut attractions over the 12 months to June 2021, whether by clicking on web links or contacting by email or phone. It was a time when many families reduced their travels while waiting for vaccines to protect against the COVID-19 virus.

For the first three months of this year, revenue at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut fell 10% to $215 million, while Foxwoods fell 22% to $148 million. But with the omicron variant of COVID-19 hitting the state hard in January, the spring revenue numbers should provide a better assessment of spending at both sites compared to pre-pandemic levels.

On Broadway in New York, the first week of June ticket revenue was 16% below levels in the equivalent week of June 2019, although several shows generated momentum in the second week of June.

After Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, other top Connecticut tourist destinations include Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport in Stonington; Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport; Norwalk Sea Aquarium; and the museums of Yale University in New Haven, including the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Museum.

And Connecticut hosts a number of other one-time events that draw visitors from the greater area, including The Travelers Championship PGA tournament this week in Cromwell and the Sound on Sound Music Festival slated for September in Bridgeport, featuring Stevie Nicks, Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds and The Lumineers among those expected to perform.

Last year, Connecticut’s biggest new entertainment venue opened in Bridgeport, the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater Concert Pavilion in the former Harbor Yard baseball stadium, where the baseball team of the minor league Bridgeport Bluefish has played before.

Downtown restaurants and watering holes reported renewed activity on concert nights, despite high-end concessions, is held inside the venue, with “The Amp” seating over 5,700 spectators.

But as is the case with neighboring states, Connecticut is dotted with hundreds of other landmarks, the most recent being the American Mural Project’s new gallery in Litchfield County which houses a five-story mural which AMP calls the largest “indoor collaborative work of art” in the world.

“When people come to see and visit, they look at cities,” Adams said Tuesday. “They are visiting family and friends and want to see what’s in the area, so we want to make sure we have a much stronger list for towns and villages.”

Brian Lockhart contributed to this report.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman