Tourism is a $14-billion industry in Connecticut, but some say the state needs to do more to make people aware of hidden gems from the shoreline to the quiet corner.
“I think Connecticut has a bad rap, actually,” Robin Curtis of Sherborn, Mass., said.
The Fairfield native doesn’t leave the Boston area for Connecticut anymore unless it’s for work.
“It doesn’t really have a niche right now. Right? You think of New England, you think of mountains are New Hampshire, Vermont, the beaches are more Mass. Mystic is the only thing I think Connecticut is known for right now,” Curtis said.
She stayed at the Goodwin Hotel on business, which has served travelers on and off for more than 100-years. This June marks the one-year anniversary of its grand reopening in downtown Hartford.
“I know we’re seeing a lot of people come in for weddings in the next couple weeks,” guest service agent Lindsey Joseph said of the kickoff to the summer tourist season.
Joseph said she answers a lot of questions from inquiring guests about attractions in the area.
“We definitely always have people interested in the Wadsworth, and the Yard Goats park definitely is drawing a lot of attraction now,” she said.
However, she believes Connecticut has greater potential to attract visitors.
“I think we get the reputation that there’s nothing to do here. Why come to Connecticut> There’s nothing to see, there’s nothing to do,” Joseph said.
“There is so much to see and do in Connecticut. We have everything from coast to country,” said Christine Castonguay, of the Department of Economic and Community Development.
At the governor’s annual conference on tourism, the tie between tourism and economic development was on full display. From creating authentic experiences to attracting international travelers, those in the tourism trade tried to hone in on what it will take to bring more visitors to the state.
Gov. Dannel Malloy had his own suggestions when he took to the podium.
He touted a transportation program that expands tourism’s economic impact. He also reminded conference attendees not to forget visitors from Ireland, now that Aer Lingus flies in and out of Connecticut, and Canadian tourists who are just a drive away.