Published September 18. 2012 4:00AM
Connecticut tourism officials are touting data that show an increase in this year's traffic at the state's major attractions, including Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium.
At the Mystic sites, the Mark Twain House in Hartford, the New England Air Museum at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat and the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, visits were up 6.8 percent through the first seven months of the year compared to the same period in 2011.
The Mystic and Norwalk aquariums reported their highest ticket sales since July 2009, according to the state Department of Economic and Community Development's Office of Tourism. Officials noted the upswing in a press release in which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced this fall's start of the second phase of the state's "Still Revolutionary" campaign, a two-year, $27 million effort to boost tourism and economic development. The first phase, launched in May, highlighted state tourism destinations that reflect the campaign's portrayal of Connecticut as a place steeped in history and a haven for innovators.
Through July, visitation this year at the six major attractions is up 13.1 percent over the first seven months of 2010. Compared to 2009, the last year the state funded statewide tourism and marketing before eliminating such spending in 2010 and 2011, this year's visitation at the major attractions is up less than a percent.
"Connecticut recently embarked on efforts to aggressively market and brand the state after having been out of the marketplace for two years," Randy Fiveash, the state's tourism director, said in an email. "Changing perceptions under these conditions is a building process and we are at the very beginning. The initial data shows indications that we are moving in the right direction."
In its second phase, the campaign will showcase "the forward-thinking companies that do business in the state" and the business and cultural environments that enable them to thrive, the governor's office said.
"Our goal, always, is to retain, attract, and create good-paying jobs with good benefits," Malloy said in the release. "But for too long, our state failed to compete, and our tourism strategy is a great example of that. Because of a lack of investment, Connecticut was literally left off the map of New England tourism destinations. Whether it's tourism dollars or economic development, we are going to compete because it will benefit our state and our residents.
"This campaign tells the stories of companies that are inventing the future today through innovation," he said. "Being revolutionary is what binds them, along with all the businesses in Connecticut."
Among the companies the campaign will feature are ESPN, the cable sports network based in Bristol; Alexion Pharmaceuticals, whose global headquarters is in Cheshire; and East Hartford-based Pratt & Whitney, the jet-engine builder.
The campaign will appear in TV, print and digital advertising and on a new website, www.ctforbusiness.com, which will promote the state as a place to locate and do business.
The "Still Revolutionary" tourism marketing efforts also will continue this fall with the debut of a seasonal campaign featuring locations in western Connecticut.
State officials report that visits to the state's tourism website, www.CTvisit.com, have doubled since the launch of the "Still Revolutionary" campaign.