Visitors to tourist attractions in eastern Connecticut will now have an easier time planning their trips. Tourist groups in the area, along with the state's Eastern Regional Tourism District, are formally joining forces by launching the Greater Mystic Visitors Bureau.
The groups made the announcement Tuesday afternoon. They will streamline their marketing efforts and enhance the region's website in the hopes of making the Mystic area one of the top 50 tourist destinations in the country, said Donna Simpson, the executive director of the Eastern Regional Tourism District.
"The whole point is get people to come, get people to have a good time, get people to come back again," said Simpson.
The visitors bureau will be a public-private partnership and will be run out of donated space in the Olde Mystick Village. It will rely on state funding and contributions from larger attractions like the casinos, the Mystic Aquarium, and the Mystic Seaport. In addition, all members will pay dues.
As state lawmakers struggle with a budget, the Eastern Tourism District stands to lose anywhere from 17 percent to 72 percent of its current funding which could limit the size, staff, and impact of the new visitors bureau, said Simpson.
Tourism officials pointed out the industry contributes over $14 million a year in revenue to the state, with 53 percent of that coming from New London County. "When we seek funding for tourism, we're not seeking a handout," said Stephen Coan, the president of Mystic Aquarium. "We're seeking an investment in the future of the state."
The tourism industry accounts for about 30,000 jobs in eastern Connecticut, officials said.