The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 16, 2014

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Gov. Shumlin, business owners: ‘Vermont is open for business’

Sunshine, clearer skies, and the best of summer yet to come
 
Whether it's touring covered bridges in Bennington, playing disc golf at Killington, hiking the Long Trail in central Vermont, mountain biking at the Catamount Outdoor Family Center, or sailing on Lake Champlain, Vermont is open for business and the best of summer is yet to come.

"We've had a wet start to the summer season and that's been tough on weather-dependent businesses. But the sun is shining, and Vermonters and out of state visitors alike are ready to get out and enjoy the state," said Gov. Shumlin.

Visitor spending is a critical piece of the state's economic health, generating  $274.5 million in tax and fee revenue for Vermont in 2011. Visitor spending also supports an estimated 37,910 jobs for Vermonters, accounting for approximately 11.5 percent of all Vermont jobs - reflecting a 13.1 percent increase of employment in the hospitality and recreation sector since 2009.

Tourism officials also report that 72.9 percent of the 13.95 million trips are made by out of state visitors. Traveler origins are domestic U.S. (7.6 million), Vermont (3.8 million), Canadian (2.5 million) and International (.1 million).

To help boost those numbers, the Department of Tourism and Marketing, with support of the Legislature and marketing partners Long Trail Brewing and Cabot Cooperative Creamery, launched a $460,000 campaign in May to expand advertising efforts in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, the first promotion in these regions in nine years. Commissioner Megan Smith says the strategy behind this campaign was to not only introduce Vermont to new markets, but to simultaneously attract visitors who will book a longer length of stay.

The Governor noted that fairs are being held around the state; the ski areas have become year-round resorts offering golf, zip lines, biking and more; downtowns and village centers host inns, museums, craft shops and restaurants; festivals around the state celebrate everything from Vermont-brewed beer to fine foods, music, and agricultural products; car shows, car races, motorcycle races, mountain bike races and foot races abound; and much more.

"There's so much to do throughout Vermont in the summer. From festivals to outdoor dining, every part of the Vermont experience engages travelers on a variety of levels and boosts our economy," said Betsy Bishop, President of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

The weather has taken a bite out of an otherwise robust summer season in Vermont. Last year the Vermont State Parks saw about 920,000 visitors, a number that has dropped about 25 percent this year due to weeks of rainfall.

"We have plenty of time to recover," said Michael Snyder, Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation. He said the state parks were full over the July 4th holiday week, and anticipated a strong end of summer season. "It's a great time for outdoor recreation, and we've got a lot of pent up demand out there. Our facilities and staff are ready, and we're encouraging folks to get out and enjoy camping, the lakes, mountains and trail system. We're ready to welcome Vermonters and out of state visitors alike."