Speaker's Panel Calls For More Investment And Changes In State Tourism Efforts

March 12, 2019

Following a statewide “listening tour” conducted since its formation in October, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Tourism submitted a report of findings and recommendations to the legislature’s Commerce Committee today.

Opening and staffing Connecticut Welcome Centers 24/7, replacing the “Still Revolutionary” marketing brand with a new logo/slogan, eye-catching attraction signage, and increasing the amount of lodging tax revenue dedicated to tourism from 10% to 25% are among the panel’s recommendations. 

“The Connecticut tourism sector is strong, but we need to recommit to our investment and retool our marketing efforts to attract more visitors to our beautiful state,” Aresimowicz said. “Tourism should not be simply viewed as a cost but as an investment in our economy that creates jobs and helps pay for the programs and services vital to all our residents.”

The Panel’s report was presented at a Commerce Committee public hearing on related tourism bills (HB7306 or HB7307).      

“We listened to seasoned experts of every tourism-related industry across Connecticut and heard amazing ideas both strategic and tactical to help us compete with the other New England States,” said the Panel’s chair Don DeVivo, President, DATTCO, Inc. “The whole process of chairing the Blue Ribbon Panel has been a rewarding experience that showed an inspiring spirit of cooperation, ingenuity and entrepreneurship for Tourism in Connecticut. Our legislators are discovering that tourism is serious business, generating a tax windfall, with every dollar invested returning three times that to our treasury.”

The Panel, which included representation of transportation, lodging, chambers of commerce, tribal nations, cultural organizations and destinations, held meetings and hearings throughout the state over the past few months to listen to industry stakeholders on ways to better promote tourism and encourage job growth in the industry. 

Much of the Panel’s report is in line with proposals of the legislature’s Bipartisan Tourism Caucus as well as the Governor’s Arts, Culture & Tourism Policy Committee.  
Tourism in Connecticut is currently a $14.7 billion industry, directly supporting almost 83,000 jobs, and producing $1.7 billion in total tax revenue according to the state Department of Economic and Community Development.