When you visit the Lakes Region this summer or fall, you will be joined by thousands of others drawn to the area by the recreation, the lakes and mountains, and the rich New England history. Visitors will come from all over United States but you will be as likely to see tour buses full of folks from the United Kingdom, from China and Japan, and a number of other countries.
During a recent visit to the Lakes Region, US Senator Jeanne Shaheen spoke about the importance of tourism to the state’s economy. She also stressed that visitors are inquiring about and traveling to our state in large numbers and many are now coming from overseas.
Shaheen was in the area for a cruise aboard the iconic MS Mount Washington on a rainy day in early July to promote the importance of tourism in the state’s economy. Jim Morash, captain and general manager of the M/S Mount Washington, introduced Senator Shaheen, calling her a “friend of tourism.”
She was accompanied by local business members of the tourism industry as well as Mike Fullerton, director of public affairs for Brand USA.
Shaheen commented, “New Hampshire’s second-largest industry is tourism. We need to make sure we get the word out about our lakes, the ocean, and mountains, and the history of the state.”
With that goal in mind, Shaheen, who has been an ambassador for Granite State tourism, introduced Fullerton. He commented, “After 9/11, international tourism decreased. In 2010, Brand USA was established by the [federal] Travel Promotion Act of 2010; Senator Shaheen supported the project.”
According to the website www.thebrandusa.com, “Brand USA was established by the Travel Promotion Act to spearhead the nation’s first global marketing effort to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and to communicate U.S. entry/exit policies and procedures to worldwide travelers. Formed as the Corporation for Travel Promotion in 2010, the public-private entity began operations in May 2011 and does business as Brand USA. Brand USA works in close partnership with the travel industry to maximize the economic and social benefits of travel. These benefits include fostering understanding between people and cultures, creating jobs essential to the economy.”
Fullerton’s task is to work via Brand USA to create a positive view of America to international communities. He said that, for every 33 visitors, one U.S. job is created, making the effort to attract international visitors good business for everyone.
“I grew up in New England,” Fullerton said, “and I am glad to be here. The Lakes Region is home to domestic and international visitors. I can see that the area offers so much, from boat cruises to biplane rides, cave adventures, castle tours, a zip line — all things sure to please visitors.”
In 2012, there was an 8.8 percent increase in tourism spending, which is good news for New Hampshire. The newest market is Japan, and that country is showing a big interest in visiting the Granite State. That is due in large part, according to Fullerton, to “Senator Shaheen’s support and dedication to tourism.”
Perhaps because they are traveling to New Hampshire from so far away, international visitors tend to stay in the area longer and thus spend more while they are here. Brand USA has made an effort to target the United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada; the successful campaign has broadened to include China, Germany, South Korea, Australia, and a number of other countries.
After the press conference, Senator Shaheen, Fullerton and members of the Lakes Region tourism industry boarded the MS Mount Washington for a cruise to Wolfeboro. The senator spoke with passengers on The Mount and sat and chatted in a roundtable discussion with tourism representatives — among them Amy Landers, executive director of the Lakes Region Tourism Association; Karmen Gifford, executive director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce; and Susan Presby of the Mount Washington Cog Railway (Presby was introduced as an advisory board member of BrandUSA).
While the members of the roundtable group sipped coffee and indulged in cookies provided by the MS Mount Washington, Shaheen got down to the business of discussing Brand USA and tourism’s importance to New Hampshire’s economy. It was an opportunity for Lakes Region tourism representatives and businesspeople to get to know Fullerton and to ask questions about the newest tourism opportunity.
No one could ignore the very rainy day, one of just many the Lakes Region has experienced this season. However, the weather’s unpredictability is something the group of seasoned tourism leaders has dealt with before and will face again. Indeed, Morash presented Senator Shaheen with a gift from the MS Mount Washington crew, a beautiful New Hampshire blanket with four-season graphics of the Old Man of the Mountains, the MS Mount Washington, fishing, snowmobiling, and other scenes that represent recreation in the state. Morash, perhaps as a nod to the rainy and chilly day, told the senator laughingly, “This New Hampshire blanket will keep you warm!”
Senator Shaheen got off The Mount in Wolfeboro to continue her public relations trip. Fullerton chose to stay on board and make the return trip to the Weirs Beach dock with the tourism roundtable group.
The informal discussion that followed offered the group a chance to share information and to ask more questions of Fullerton. He explained how proactive Senator Shaheen has been in promoting New Hampshire. “She was the first senator to come to my office and talk about how Brand USA could work to promote tourism in New Hampshire.”
Also discussed were Brand USA’s efforts to promote U.S. tourism to the international market via social media such as Facebook. This is important, according to Fullerton, because perceptions of New England vary in the international community. Many foreign visitors do assume that New England is a microcosm of the U.S. and that the area is rich in history. This positive view can be widely promoted via social media.
“The average visitor to our country,” stressed Fullerton, “spends approximately $4,500 while they are visiting here.” That is certainly a positive boost for New Hampshire’s economy.
The next time you hear foreign languages spoken by visitors or see a big tour bus in the Lakes Region, it may be that those visitors from another country are providing a boost to our economy thanks to the efforts of dedicated Lakes Region business people and organizations, of Brand USA, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
To learn more about Brand USA, visit www.thebrandusa.com .