CONNECTICUT TOURISM COUNCIL
AWARDS $244,700 IN CHALLENGE GRANTS
Grants Leverage $1.3 million in Projects
Designed to Promote Tourism in Connecticut
Hartford, CT - February 14, 2003 - The
Connecticut Tourism Council announced it has awarded 19 challenge grants
totaling $244,700 to assist non-profit organizations across the state in
promoting tourism attractions and events. Challenge grants support regional
tourism programs designed to have a significant and measurable impact on
Connecticut's tourism industry.
"This year, funding from challenge grants
will help establish or expand the marketing of exciting events and important
cultural programs designed to encourage more out-of-state visitors to stay
overnight in Connecticut," said First Lady Patricia L. Rowland, honorary
chairperson of the Connecticut Tourism Council. "For example, the 5th
Annual Comedy Festival in Waterbury will be expanded to a 10-day event and will
certainly attract visitors to the state for several days. Challenge grant money
will also help establish a new marketing partnership between the Lyme Historical
Society, the Florence Griswold Museum and 16 businesses to increase the number
of out-of-state visitors to Historic Lyme Street by 50 percent."
Lawrence D. McHugh, Chairman of the Connecticut
Tourism Council's Challenge Grant Committee and President of the Middlesex
County Chamber of Commerce, said, "During these challenging economic times,
it is more critical than ever to support local tourism initiatives that attract
people to our state and continue to grow Connecticut's $5 billion tourism
industry. It's encouraging to see so much industry involvement in the overall
effort, and by leveraging that effort with challenge grants, we can help the
industry maximize a $1.3 million investment in our state's economic
Since 1999, the Tourism Council has awarded more
than $1.3 million in challenge grants, leveraging nearly $10 million in tourism
marketing projects. According to Mr. McHugh, challenge grants have contributed
significantly to the successful growth of regional programs such as the annual
Connecticut River Eagle Festival in Essex and the Connecticut Impressionist Art
Trail, which now draw thousands of out-of-state visitors from the region.
Challenge grant funds are distributed to
programs that demonstrate potential for economic return and are compatible with
the State's strategic plans as well as regional tourism goals. Funding for the
grants is generated solely by the Tourism Promotion Fund's dollar-a-day
surcharge on rental cars and is matched or exceeded by funds from the private
The Connecticut Tourism Council, with members
appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders, provides guidance to the
Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of Tourism to further
tourism's contribution to economic development and to promote targeted strategic
investment in Connecticut's tourism products. The 14-member Council is made up
of public- and private-sector representatives with strong expertise in a variety
of disciplines from the travel and tourism industry.
Tourism is a $5 billion industry in Connecticut.
It is also one of the industry clusters expected to drive future job growth in
Connecticut. Investment in the growth of tourism is a key component of
Connecticut's overall development policy.
Challenge grants recommended by the council for
funding in 2003 include:
Connecticut Polar Bears Women's Hockey Club, Inc. -- $7,500 to raise
awareness of the Connecticut Polar Bears 2003 National Tournament (Dec. 26-30,
2003). Nationally, the Polar Bears have reached the final four competition 14
times, claimed 6 championship titles and generated a number of U.S. Olympic team
players. In 2001, the tournament attracted 155 teams and generated 6,000 hotel
room stays. Participation increased in 2002, with 200 teams and approximately
8,000 hotel room stays.
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art -- $15,000 for Connecticut Beautiful, a
multi-faceted program centered around Wallace Nutting and the Invention of Old
America exhibit (June 6-October 19, 2003), which will be displayed at both the
Wadsworth and the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield. The project
includes developing and promoting 2-3 day packages featuring other attractions
statewide. Grant money will support website creation, brochure development and
distribution and advertising.
Farmington Valley Visitors Association --
$15,000 to design and implement a media plan to market the Farmington Valley as
a tourist destination, showcasing sites and attractions in seven towns by
bringing travel writers to the area twice a year. Grant money will support
hiring a marketing firm that specializes in hospitality and travel tourism.
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center -- $15,000
to promote Connecticut literary sites by developing a targeted and integrated
marketing campaign for the Stowe Center, the Mark Twain House, the Noah Webster
House and Gillette Castle. Grant money will support creating weekend getaways
with discount coupons for lodging and restaurants, a four-color brochure,
advertising and website content.
Greater Hartford Tourism District -
$16,500 to produce a broadcast quality video to showcase and market the Greater
Hartford region and the state as a great destination for meetings and
conventions. The video will feature the area's many attractions, golf courses,
sports venues, shopping hubs and eateries. Together with the Convention and
Visitors Bureau, the Tourism District will use the video to attract meeting
planners and organizations with large memberships to the new Connecticut
Convention Center. The Tourism District also plans to supply the region's hotel
community with the video to increase national exposure to the state's assets.
The Mark Twain House -- $15,000 to
significantly change and increase the advertising, marketing and promotional
efforts of the Mark Twain House before the unveiling of a new,
35,000-square-foot education and visitors' center this fall. The Mark Twain
House has recently experienced a 20 percent increase in the number of visitors,
generated in part by the popularity of Mark Twain, the PBS documentary by
filmmaker Ken Burns. Grant money will support the creation and distribution of a
new tri-fold brochure and map, website redesign and a significantly increased
Greater New Haven
AMISTAD America, Inc. -- $16,500 to promote a series of events beginning
in summer 2003 leading up to a 2-day welcoming event for the Amistad's return to
home port with a focus on African American women. Grant money will support
website development, co-op advertising, publicity and direct mail.
Arts & Ideas New Haven -- $12,000 for
a media marketing campaign designed to increase attendance of New York residents
by 50 percent. Grant money will support three components of the campaign: print
advertising, rack brochures and integrated promotional partnering with New York
Connecticut River Valley
25th Meriden Daffodil Festival - $12,000 to increase the number of
out-of-state visitors to Meriden's signature event, the Daffodil Festival (April
26-27, 2003), by 25-30 percent. The annual festival features 500,000 daffodils,
a variety of local foods, free entertainment, free parking and a juried craft
fair in beautiful Hubbard Park. Grant money will help develop and distribute a
new four-color brochure and secure additional advertising.
Seven Angels Theater -- $12,500 to expand the theater's annual comedy
festival and increase its promotion through radio, print and television
advertising, in collaboration with the Waterbury Region Convention and Visitors
Bureau. The goal is to expand the event to multiple venues throughout the city
during a 10-day period. Festival packages will include restaurant and hotel room
discounts as well as a variety of daytime tours.
Railroad Museum of New England -- $12,500
to revamp marketing efforts and focus on the museum as a destination for family
fun. The Railroad Museum of New England will begin hosting an annual summer
event this year (August 15-17 and 22-24) in the Library Park and train station
area of Waterbury. Grant money will support brochure and website development, as
well as print and radio advertising.
Stamford Museum and Nature Center -- $16,500 for a marketing and public
relations plan to support Pedal to the Metal: A History of Children's Pedal Cars
(July-Sept 3). The exhibition traces the history of children's pedal cars with
hands-on activities and is expected to draw more than 50,000 visitors, with 40
percent coming from out of state. Promotional packages will include overnight
stays at the Sheraton Stamford and the Roger Sherman Inn. Grant money will
assist with brochure and flier development, and advertising.
The Barnum Festival -- $15,000 to help
market and promote a 30-day, Fourth-of-July-type of celebration culminating with
"The Greatest Weekend on Earth" (June 26-29). The goal is to increase
attendance by 10 percent and encourage overnight stays in Fairfield County.
Grant money will build on current marketing efforts plus an accompanying public
relations campaign including radio promotions and distribution of materials on
the Long Island Ferry.
Keeler Tavern Preservation Society -- $10,000 to expand the marketing
reach for a year-long celebration of Cass Gilbert, a noted benefactor and
architect whose glass designs grace the Supreme Court Building in Washington,
D.C. and the Woolworth Building in Manhattan. Grant money will assist with
direct mail to architectural associations, historical societies and museums; an
extensive program distribution plan for the museum brochure; and a take-away
booklet that includes two promotional offers for visitors.
Litchfield Performing Arts, Inc. -- $13,000 to develop and launch JazzNet,
a web-based promotional campaign to increase attendance and encourage extended
weekend stays. Grant money will also be used for radio promotions in the New
York metro area.
Northwest CT Association for the Arts, Inc.
-- $10,700 for marketing and promotion of ACCT/Fest '03, the American
Association of Community Theater's national theater competition in June at the
Warner Theater in Torrington, featuring 11 productions from around the country
in four days. Grant money will support tri-state promotional material
encouraging extended stays, such as brochures, advertising spots, welcome
packets and festival programs.
Mystic & More
Connecticut Outdoor Historic Drama, Inc. -- $10,000 for promoting the
newly established Connecticut outdoor historic drama, premiering with Benedict
Arnold - A Brave Revenge, the last week in July at Washington Park in Groton.
The event will be presented in conjunction with the City of Groton and is
expected to attract an audience of 71,500 people per season, generating an
economic impact of $20 million annually.
Lyme Historical Society/Florence Griswold
Museum -- $10,000 to support a collaborative marketing campaign for 16
historic district businesses that have recently formed a partnership called
Historic Lyme Street. The goal is to market the town as one of Connecticut's
premiere destinations for the cultural tourist and increase visits by 30
percent, with half coming from out of state. Grant money will assist in
Windham Textile & History Museum, Inc. -- $10,000 to develop and
conduct a widespread advertising campaign for the museum's 5th Annual Victorian
Willimantic Home Tour. The two-day event (May 31 and June 1, 2003) features more
than a dozen homes visitors can tour by foot, by horse-drawn wagon, vintage
trolley or antique automobile. Also featured are docents in period dress,
musical performances, lectures and walking tours of other historic sites in
town. The bi-annual Thread City Festival of Quilts, with 300 quilts on display,
will be held the same weekend this year.
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