Despite a budget shortfall that will require his state to cut spending and increase taxes, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has pledged to spend $15 million a year to market "The Constitution State" to visitors, keeping a campaign promise that he made last summer in support of the tourism industry, according to local media reports.
On the campaign trail last year, then-candidate Malloy noted that tourism generates more than $11.5 billion in spending and $1.15 billion in tax revenue for Connecticut, which last year was the only New England state with a net decline in visits to attractions, according to The Hartford Courant
. To reverse the trend and generate tourism industry jobs for state residents, Malloy proposed an increase in destination marketing.
Last month, the governor delivered on that proposal when he launched a $2.6 million "Quick Start" summer tourism campaign — a public-private partnership that included $1 million from tourism businesses, chambers of commerce and other business groups — designed to drive more traffic to tourism attractions, such as the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn., where he gave a pro-tourism speech last week.
"Malloy has stayed trued to his commitment to grow tourism in Connecticut, and his visit to Mystic Aquarium today brings that commitment to life," said Stephen M. Coan, president and CEO of the Sea Research Foundation, which owns the aquarium.
Coan also is chairman of the Greater Mystic Visitors Bureau, which was the first tourism entity in Connecticut to fully endorse the governor's request for private investment in statewide marketing, contributing $400,000 to the summer campaign. According to the Courant, that campaign has resulted in a 40 percent increase in visits to the Mystic Aquarium's website and a 50 percent increase in purchases of the Mystic Pass, which includes admission to two Mystic area attractions, as well as discounts at hotels, restaurants and retail shops.
Of course, tourism promotion will continue even after summer is over, as the state's budget for fiscal year 2012 — which began July 1 — included the $15 million that Malloy pledged for destination marketing.
"The quickest way to create jobs is to strengthen the tourism industry and hospitality industries within Connecticut and the best way to do that is to get people moving around in our state," Malloy said recently, according to the Associated Press.