Tourism Districts Under Threat

Governor's budget proposal centralizes marketing cash

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Tourism Districts Under Threat
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Tourism Districts Under Threat

 

Connecticut’s tourism districts are preparing to make their pitch to the legislature about why they should survive in these straitened economic times. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Governor Dannel Malloy has positioned himself as a strong supporter of Connecticut tourism and state marketing. But while he restored a robust central marketing budget and launched the state’s Still Revolutionary campaign, he’s less of a fan of the three tourism districts. His budget proposal is the third time that he’s attempted to zero out funding for the districts, in order to centralize the cash. Ed Dombroskas runs the Eastern Tourism District, based in Mystic. He believes, not surprisingly, that the two should work together.

“The state is making the case for the state as a destination, and we make the sale when they’re deciding exactly what it is they’re going to do on a particular trip.”

Dombroskas says tourism is an industry that relies on giving its potential customers a detailed level of information.

"Tourism especially in this state is a small business industry. And consumers need to have a way in which they can contact or understand what there is to see and do. That’s where the regional tourism districts come in."

Dombroskas will give evidence at a public hearing at the legislature next week, considering the effects of the Governor’s budget proposal on economic development.

“I think that everyone recognizes that this budget is a particularly difficult one to come into balance and there are a lot of competing interests. It’s our job to make sure it’s recognized that the money spent on tourism isn’t an expense, it’s an investment; that if we grow tourism, if we encourage people to bring money from out of the area into the area, that grows businesses.”

He intends also to point to his district’s efforts to leverage private cash. The half million dollars in state funding attracts about a 20 percent premium from the private companies that make up the Greater Mystic Visitors bureau.