Contact: Kevin Coughlin
June 20, 2012
MYSTIC, CT—As the Beluga whales Kela, Naku, Juno, and Naluark looked on from their tank in the background, State Senator Andrew Maynard (D-Stonington) held a press conference at Mystic Aquarium on Wednesday.
Joined by officials from the aquarium, Mystic Seaport, and the CT Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD), Senator Maynard outlined the details of “Connecticut Treasures,” a new state program to promote tourism and attendance at Connecticut’s greatest cultural, historic and educational destinations.
“Tourism is essential to our state’s economy, particularly here in Southeast Connecticut. Just a few years ago, the state cut all funding for tourism promotion—we were literally taken off the map of New England,” said Senator Maynard. “But now we’re back on track. The Connecticut Treasures program will promote the best Connecticut has to offer, including historic and educational attractions like Mystic and the Mystic Aquarium. It will offer free or reduced admission to children, and supplement the state’s ongoing Still Revolutionary campaign. This is good for our economy, and all our local businesses.”
The “Connecticut Treasures” program was created last week during a special session of the General Assembly, as part of the 2012 Jobs Package. Its primary goal is to promote tourism in Connecticut, thereby benefitting the many local businesses which cater to tourists, including restaurants, shops, hotels, and more.
Under the program, the Commissioner of DECD will be charged with identifying key attractions in Connecticut which hold cultural, educational or historic significance—Connecticut’s “Treasures.” Attendance at these locations will then be promoted via advertising, TV, radio, and online.
A key feature of the program will be the CT Treasures Passport, which will provide free or reduced admission to CT Treasures locations for children under 18 and accompanied by a teacher or a parent. Related curricula will be developed by DECD and distribute to teachers across the state.
“Sea Research Foundation and Mystic Aquarium will join the State of Connecticut and other Connecticut treasures, both known and undiscovered, to educate and inspire Connecticut residents. As New England’s largest informal learning institution, we reach young people worldwide and are committed to strengthening STEM education and creating a sound conservation ethic in the next generation,” said Peter Glankoff, Executive Vice President at Mystic Aquarium.
“Through the brand exploration and research we conducted to launch still revolutionary—Connecticut’s new brand identity—we discovered that the unique experience Connecticut offers is one of inspiration. From hidden gems to state treasures—our sights, experiences and places are inspiring—and that’s what sets us apart from not only our New England neighbors, but the rest of the country,” said Randy Fiveash, Director of the Office of Tourism, DECD.
“We often forget what remarkable institutions and places we have right here in Connecticut. By leveraging these cultural treasures we can reach many important goals: more jobs, a better education for our children, and an appreciation for and pride in our cultural heritage. This program is an important first step in supporting what are underutilized assets, and that can help boost the local economy for all of us,” said Stephen C. White, President, Mystic Seaport.
“Programs such as ‘Connecticut Treasures’ will enhance the success of our cultural institutions and will drive more visitors to our region. Through these marketing efforts, we will also see a direct correlation of increased business to the surrounding businesses. We will see hotel stay increase, local dining establishments will be full and our retail shops will prosper. Tourism is a true economic driver and we appreciate the State’s attention to this industry,” said Tricia Cunningham, President of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce.
Leading candidates for participation in the “Connecticut Treasures” program include Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport, the Connecticut Science Center, the Mark Twain House, Dinosaur State Park, and numerous other locations. Final selections will be made by DECD, and all state-owned and operated museums will be included.
Tourism in Connecticut generates about $11.5 billion in spending every year, employing nearly 111,000 workers statewide and generating approximately $1.15 billion in state and local tax revenue, according to 2011 statistics.
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
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