CT Launches $1.2 Million Campaign Promoting Fall Tourism as COVID Concerns Continue

Connecticut by the Numbers

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Connecticut is spending $1.2 Million to attract tourists to the state.CT Numbers image

It may prove to be a busy fall season in Connecticut.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recommended that everyone receive a COVID booster shot eight months after their second dose. HHS said that the booster shot would be available starting Sept. 20, but will only be available to those who had a Pfizer vaccine. The third shot is needed to fight of waning immunity, HHS said recently.

State employees, K-12 teachers and staff, and childcare workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 27, Gov. Ned Lamont announced last month. If an employee does not get vaccinated, the worker will be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing.

Indoor masking is required in all schools, and the governor signed an executive order allowing municipal leaders to impose masking indoors in public places, regardless of a person’s vaccination status. Many communities have done so, including Hartford, Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, West Hartford and at least two dozen others. The state does not publish an updated list.

Amidst the ongoing concerns about COVID-19, particularly the impact of the delta variant, Connecticut is launching a million dollar effort to attract tourists from out-of-state to spend some time visiting this Fall.

Governor Lamont announced that the Connecticut Office of Tourism is launching a new fall marketing campaign to promote safe travel and fuel the Connecticut tourism industry’s continued economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Called “Full Color Connecticut,” the campaign features the state’s renowned fall foliage while paying tribute to all the other colors and experiences state residents and visitors can enjoy in Connecticut this autumn – from the golds of corn mazes and the pinks of cotton candy to the blues of coastline sails and the ambers of craft beer, officials highlighted.

“’Full Color Connecticut’ celebrates our state’s natural beauty and the diverse businesses, outdoor activities, and agricultural offerings that make it a truly spectacular fall destination,” Governor Lamont said in announcing the campaign. “Connecticut’s tourism industry will play an important role in the rebuilding of our economy, which is why we’ve invested heavily in helping it recover from the pandemic. This campaign is just the latest way we’re helping to do that and encourage everyone to get out and safely support local tourism businesses.”

The $1.4 million campaign is nearly triple the amount typically invested in Connecticut’s fall marketing program. The expanded budget will allow the campaign to reach about 33% of its target audience market in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island – compared to 10% in recent years – as well as expand into other geographical markets, including Philadelphia.

“This fall, we’re reaching more likely travelers with the message that Connecticut is not only safely open for business, but also offering some of the best and brightest fall colors and experiences the region has to offer – closer to home,” Christine Castonguay, interim director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism, said. “All of this activity is aimed at driving more revenues to more businesses as we continue to navigate this ever-changing environment.”

The new campaign comes on the heels of a summer marketing effort, Say Yes to Connecticut, which ran May 1 through September 6. The just-concluded $1.2 million campaign was funded through the Office of Tourism’s existing statewide tourism marketing budget, according to state officials, and included a new television campaign that will run in-state, as well as on streaming television in proximity states; robust social media campaigns across Facebook and Instagram; new content on CTvisit.com, the state’s official tourism website; paid search marketing; and earned media, including public relations and email marketing.

Everything is relative. It was only 7 years ago that the state, during the tenure of former Gov. Dannel Malloy, launched a $3.4 million tourism campaign that ran May through August 2014 in key regional markets, such as the greater New York City metro, Hartford/New Haven, Providence, Western Massachusetts markets, as well as in digital executions targeted at consumer passion points and sites of interest, the CT Mirror reported at the time. It was a segment of the brand campaign known as “Still Revolutionary,” which initially launched in 2012 and was discontinued when Malloy left office, succeeded by Lamont.

It was in 2009 that the state, facing a recession and opting for severe budget cuts, famously reduced the annual tourism marketing budget to $1 a year for a couple of years, to the consternation of state tourism attractions. The director of the Mark Twain House at the time responded in The New York Times, warning that “If the state does not have resources to adequately promote Connecticut as a destination, we won’t be a destination. People won’t come.”

Running September 7 through November 20, 2021, the “Full Color Connecticut” campaign features hundreds of Connecticut tourism businesses and offerings in every corner of the state, including arts, culture and theater venues, casinos, fairs and festivals, historical sites, hotels, inns and B&Bs, museums, orchards, restaurants, shops and state parks. It utilizes a mix of integrated marketing tactics to reach potential visitors in both English and Spanish, including:

  • A new television campaign that will run in-state, as well as on streaming television in nearby states;
  • Out-of-home advertising in the form of traditional and digital billboards;
  • Robust social media campaigns across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok and Snapchat;
  • Paid search marketing and content seeding;
  • New content on CTvisit.com, the state’s official tourism website (~7M visitors in 2019); and
  • Earned media, including public relations and email marketing.

Connecticut will provide an especially colorful backdrop for fall activities this year, according to Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“Ample rainfall this summer and low overnight temperatures in September will lead to a synchronized display of dazzling colors peaking in mid-to-late October,” Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “Connecticut has some of the most diverse tree species in the region, which leads to a wider variety of colorful leaves – yellows, bronzes, oranges, reds and purples – for all to enjoy in our state parks and forests, as well as our pristine fishing and boating areas. Fall is the perfect time to get outside and try something new.”

For Connecticut’s Foliage Finder: Week-by-Week Guide, popular hiking spots and hidden gems, scenic driving loops, pick-your-own destinations, fall festivals and events, Halloween-themed fun, restaurants, lodging, and much more, go to CTvisit.com.

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Connecticut by the Numbers is the state’s leading numbers-driven news website, in its 10th year of operation. The news site, www.ctnumbers.news, provides articles focused on public policy issues and demographic data, including reporting on education, environment, transportation, finance, healthcare, tourism, public safety, housing, business and nonprofits.

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