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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 future."

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 sector.

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.

Greater Hartford
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 advertising budget.

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 pedicabs.

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.

Waterbury Region
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.

Coastal Fairfield
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 Hills
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 advertising.

Quiet Corner
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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