HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut launched its newest tourism campaign Thursday, marketing the state as an attraction offering a lot without a long drive.
The $3.4 million advertising and social media effort unveiled at a tourism conference in Hartford will run through August. It will appear in nearby markets such as the New York City area, Hartford-New Haven, Providence, R.I., and western Massachusetts.
Connecticut launched its “Still Revolutionary” marketing campaign in 2012 seeking to draw attention to the state’s role in both the Revolutionary War and Industrial Revolution.
The industry generated about $11.5 billion annually in economic activity in Connecticut and accounted for about 110,000 jobs in 2011, according to state officials.
However, Fred Carstensen, director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut, said the numbers are outdated and more recent data are not available. State officials are not funding research into the economic impact of tourism, making it difficult to tailor marketing efforts properly, he said.
“We mostly throw darts,” Carstensen said. “Sometimes we hit a target. Sometimes we break a window.”
The campaign launched in 2012 has generated $219 million in revenue, said Kip Bergstrom, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
The newest phase is the “booster rocket” taking off from the initial campaign begun two years ago, he said.
“It exposes the diversity of tourism choices we have,” Bergstrom said.
Called “Revolutionary Thoughts,” the campaign communicates through pairings of destinations the idea that Connecticut offers a balance of activities that are relaxing and require exertion, historic and contemporary, cultural and nature-oriented. “All on one tank of gas,” says one ad.
The marketing, looking to capitalize on the improving economy and more spending by consumers, is starting earlier than in previous years and extending longer, Bergstrom said. The campaign also reaches out to Connecticut residents.
“Folks have a small orbit of daily, weekly and monthly activities, so our own residents don’t know what Connecticut has to offer,” he said.
The marketing followed brand research, meeting with hundreds of stakeholders and focus group sessions. Ads feature destinations and attractions from every area of the state, including Lime Rock Park, the Connecticut Science Center, New England Air Museum, the Thimble Islands and elsewhere.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made boosting tourism a part of his 2010 election campaign, tying promotion of the state to economic development.
Follow Stephen Singer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SteveSinger10.