A Message from Our President
Wow. It’s been just over a year since we formed the Connecticut Tourism Coalition, and I’m amazed by the enthusiasm of our members and the progress we’ve made so far. Even in challenging times, our members continue to demonstrate our need for stable, reliable funding to support the 118,000+ jobs tourism supports—and create thousands more.
Since establishing the Coalition, it’s been a privilege to work with our Members to secure meetings with Governor Dan Malloy, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, and other top elected officials. We’ve impressed upon our leaders the importance of investing in tourism—from the $14 billion travelers spend across Connecticut each year to the significant investments our neighbors in New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts are making to draw those travelers away.
Our message is sinking in.
In our conversations with Members of the Connecticut General Assembly—including Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, Senator Paul Formica, Senator Cathy Osten, Senator Art Linares, and many others—it’s clear we all want to create jobs and grow opportunities for our community.
In a discussion with Rep. Courtney, for instance, the Congressman spoke about a recent trip he took to Ireland and the United Kingdom to promote Connecticut as a destination for international travelers. We know our state offers world-class entertainment, accommodations, dining, and attractions. We just need to make sure that message reaches potential visitors.
To that end, our Coalition has already begun meeting with potential gubernatorial candidates. We’ve had productive conversations with Mayor Dan Drew of Middletown and Mayor Mark Boughton of Danbury, and we’ll continue to do our part to show how crucial support for our industry is to Connecticut’s economy.
We’ve taken every opportunity to meet with the Metro Chambers and to provide public testimony in support of a dedicated source of annual funding for tourism. Hundreds of thousands of hardworking men and women depend on our industry to put food on their tables and provide for their families. That’s why we’ve already started planning for Tourism Advocacy Day 2018 at the Legislative Office Building.
Through it all, your support has been crucial to getting our message across. We continue to add new Members every week, and it’s your enthusiasm and our Coalition’s continued growth that ensures our voices are heard.
I hope that you can join us for our next board meeting on November 10 from 9 AM to 12 PM at the Waters Edge Resort. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas, and planning another year of successful advocacy.
Member Spotlight: Olde Mistick Village
The picturesque charm of colonial New England comes alive in the shops and eateries of Olde Mistick Village.
Founded in 1963 by visionary siblings Joyce Olson Resnikoff and Jerry Olson, Olde Mistick Village boasts more than 60 storefronts in a unique, distinctive setting. It is still a family-run operation under the thoughtful leadership of Joyce and her son, Chris Regan, and it is a beloved destination for both locals and visitors: the perfect place to take an afternoon stroll, enjoy some of our region’s finest cuisine, or pick up a one-of-a-kind gift.
Olde Mistick Village first opened with 45 tenants, many of which—like R.A. Georgetti & Co. and Steak Loft—remain to this day. Jerry oversaw the construction and development while Joyce secured tenants and coordinated the financing and marketing.
Over the years, Joyce led the charge in making Olde Mistick Village a premiere tourist destination. She was the driving force behind the battle to repeal so-called “blue laws,” which prevented some retail businesses from operating on Sundays. Recognizing that many families could only travel and spend time together on the weekends, Joyce fought hard to make sure Olde Mistick Village and other attractions had the opportunity to attract visitors on both Saturdays and Sundays.
Thanks in large part to Joyce’s efforts, the laws fell, and Olde Mistick Village continued to grow. In addition to unique shops and fine restaurants, the Village is also home to beloved events and attractions like the recent Garlic Festival and the upcoming Halloween Trick or Treat.
In addition to overseeing the Village, Joyce continues to be a powerful voice for tourism in Connecticut. Her passion, enthusiasm, and dedication have encouraged everything from the revitalization of the Garde Arts Theatre in New London to rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. She is an inspiration to countless members of the community, and a vital leader in our industry.
One of the founding members of Mystic Coast & Country Travel and Leisure Association back in 1992, Joyce has long been an advocate for tourism in our community. She is the former Chair of the Eastern Connecticut Tourism District, and one of the founders of the Summer Music Festival at Harkness Park.
Recently, Joyce was nominated for a prestigious Athena Award, which recognizes outstanding local businesswomen who excel in their professions, give back to their communities, and help raise up other leaders—especially women. Joyce’s leadership and generosity make her an ideal candidate for this honor.
Today, Joyce and Chris are hard at work making sure Olde Mistick Village remains a thriving, iconic destination in southern Connecticut.
Champion of Tourism: Jesse MacLachlan
A Westbrook native currently serving his second term, State Representative Jesse MacLachlan is dedicated to ensuring Connecticut is an affordable, attractive place to live. Representing the 35th General Assembly District—which includes his hometown of Westbrook as well as Clinton and Killingworth—Rep. MacLachlan serves on the legislature’s committees on Transportation, Energy, Technology, Higher Education, and Employment Advancement.
Since 2015, Rep. MacLachlan has worked in the energy sector as an asset manager for Greenskies. There he oversees the company’s relationships with its partners and provides support to the legal department on financial matters. Rep. MacLachlan has also worked for his family’s business—Biblio Tech, Inc.—which specializes in the preservation and relocation of corporate, academic, and institutional libraries.
Rep. MacLachlan’s business acumen and personal experiences have shown him the challenges other small business owners face. He also regularly keeps in contact with his constituents, whether it’s discussing Connecticut’s budget with constituents at a town hall or touring the new sugarhouse at Maple Breeze Farm to see how local businesses help grow our economy.
In the legislature, Rep. MacLachlan has championed bills that would keep jobs in our state and create more opportunities for small businesses to grow.
Rep. MacLachlan is an avid volunteer and believes firmly in giving back to his community. He mentors young people at the Valley Shore Assembly of God, and donates his time to various municipal, state, and regional service organizations.
THE TIME IS NOW!
In light of today’s challenging economic climate, the need for tourism is now, and we can’t afford to lose any more ground to our competition.
The Connecticut Tourism Coalition (CTC), an alliance of advocates from all sectors of the Connecticut tourism industry, is encouraging our elected officials to embrace tourism as solution for their fiscal challenges.
Neighboring states like New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are spending considerably more to lure tax revenue away from our state. It’s likely that New York is going to steal revenue from Fairfield County with its $69 million budget, while Rhode Island is going to poach our visitors to Mystic Country with its $5 million in tourism spending.
While this current administration has done a fine job at increasing the tourism funding in the current proposed budget from $6.5 million to $8.3 million, more needs to be done in order to better tap the potential economic impact of tourism in Connecticut.
Here’s the solution: The state needs to pass legislation that uses 3% of the taxable lodging revenue in Connecticut to establish a dedicated source of reliable funding for tourism. This will enable the industry to better assist our government leaders in boosting our state’s economy, increasing jobs, and expanding revenues.
In 2010, when the Occupancy Tax went from 12% to 15%, that 3% increase went directly into a dedicated source of funding for tourism. That worked for the first year, but then that revenue went into the general fund. Now, we’re asking for our State Legislature to fulfill its 2010 pledge and give the tourism industry back what it promised.
The Governor and General Assembly recognized it then, and it still has merit today — the value of tourism is powerful in Connecticut when it comes to generating tax revenue and reducing unemployment. As they may remember that investment yielded positive results.
Member Spotlight: Joshua’s Limousine
For the past decade, private clients and business travelers have come to rely on Joshua’s Limousine Service for dependable and elegant ground transportation. Joshua’s Limousine Service is centrally located between the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino. The company has become known throughout Connecticut, New York, and beyond, as a first class provider of quality ground transportation services.
Joshua’s is committed to exceptional customer care and promises to meet and exceed transportation expectations with clean vehicles, professional drivers, and on-time service, combined with a genuine personable style and human connection not often found in today’s business world. The company has built an exemplary team of transportation professionals who are eager to serve.
In 1995, Gary McKeon was exhausted with the lack of attention to detail with other transportation services. Gary’s wife Belinda stated, “If you think you can do better, let’s do it!” Gary took Belinda’s advice and started Joshua’s Limousine Service with just six vehicles.
Currently, the McKeons now operate two transportation services which they own. The Headquarter located in Gales Ferry, Connecticut and an operation out of Clinton, Connecticut offers vehicles ranging from sedans to 57 passenger motor coaches. In total, the McKeons operate with a magnificent fleet of 40+ vehicles combined.
The business is built around first-class customer service. Regardless of the time of day, clients will never be greeted with an answering service. The business is staffed twenty-four seven (24/7), with highly trained Joshua’s Limousine team members. Joshua’s Limousine consistently provides in-house training for improved customer service.
In fact, they have partnered with Mystic Marriot Service of Excellence Training to provide additional training. In order to ensure safety to its passengers, chauffeurs are trained upon hire, quarterly and every team member is drug tested upon hire/random pool and checked via background.
Joshua’s Limousine Service is the top limousine provider to Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, the two largest casinos in the Northern Hemisphere. The company has also worked with the Hilton Hotel Group, top-ranked boxing organizations: the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Lion Fight and many other world class organizations. In addition, Joshua’s prides itself on providing premier services specializing in weddings, promos, corporate runs, leisure tours and so much more.
Joshua’s Limosine continues to grow because of an amazing staff of Chauffeurs and Customer Service Representatives. Service strives to “Provide more than just a great ride.”
Champion of Tourism: State Representative CHRIS SOTO
A first-term legislator proudly serving the New London community, State Representative Chris Soto is guided by the core values of integrity, respect, and service. He is committed to serving his constituents and the State of Connecticut with the highest standards.
Chris arrived in New London to attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Operations Research. Following graduation, he served five years on active duty as a Coast Guard Officer with tours in Miami and New York, primarily in Law Enforcement roles. He left service, remaining in the reserves, to pursue a graduate degree at Brown University earning a Master’s in Public Affairs (MPA). He left the reserves at the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Outside of the legislature, Chris serves as the Founder and Director of Higher Edge, a college completion organization that guides Eastern CT’s low-income & first-generation college-bound students on the path to a college degree and beyond.
In New London, Representative Soto serves on the Democratic Town Committee, the Hispanic Alliance Scholarship Committee, the Three Rivers College Foundation Board, and the Southeastern CT Cultural Coalition Board.
Prior to joining the legislature, Chris was appointed to represent Southeastern Connecticut on the former Latino & Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, now the Commission on Equity and Opportunity. He is fiercely passionate about access and opportunity, as evidenced by his community experience, which he proudly carries into the legislature.
Metro Chambers Bolster Support For Connecticut Tourism
The Connecticut Metro Chambers of Commerce, which includes the eight largest Chambers of Commerce in the state, have joined the Connecticut Tourism Coalition in urging state lawmakers to pass legislation that creates a sustainable funding source for tourism marketing and promotion in the state.
In a recent letter to Senators Paul Formica and Catherine Osten, the CEOs of the Metro Chambers expressed their ongoing support and optimism for the industry, and asked that the State Legislature continue to provide full funding for this important segment of the state’s economy.
The Connecticut Tourism Coalition applauds this effort by the Metro Chambers. Now is the time to act. Connecticut’s under-funded tourism sector needs immediate attention before the state is left behind in economic growth and vitality. While this current administration and legislative body has done a fine job at proposing increases to tourism funding, it’s still not enough.
The State Legislature should pass legislation that commits 3% of the taxable lodging revenue collected in Connecticut to be used for funding the promotion of Connecticut tourism. This will help bring travelers and traveler-spending to the state.
By harnessing the power of tourism, we’re going to change the tide in favor of Connecticut’s future, but we need the help of our State Legislature. The Connecticut Tourism Coalition and Metro Chambers implore them to act quickly and commit to tourism in the state.
Member Spotlight: WATER’S EDGE RESORT & SPA
Welcoming families and friends for more than 30 years, Water’s Edge Resort & Spa is a full-fledged leader among waterfront Connecticut hotels and destination resorts, valued and treasured by those who visit often and fall in love with its spirit.
Perfectly landscaped gardens and acres of grounds overlooking the picturesque Long Island Sound, along with an exclusive private white sand beach has kept this historic Westbrook destination a top New England beachfront resort for vacations and getaways. It’s where family memories are made, romantic escapes are treasured, and where Connecticut goes to find the shore.
Water’s Edge Resort & Spa was recently awarded the coveted Preferred Hotel & Resort and the Historical Hotels of America designation, thus becoming the only facility in all of Connecticut with both distinctions.
Charming and contemporary waterfront accommodations are perfectly balanced, offering luxury comforts with a variety of spaces to meet needs of travelers. The beach resort boasts nearly 100 guest rooms and suites in the main hotel, 68 seaside villas and both a 4- and 5-bedroom beachfront cottage. Among the newest additions—20 luxury 2-bedroom villas are located on the water – elegantly finished with high-end touches, gorgeous views and convenient beach access.
When it’s time to dine, guests will enjoy the ambiance of Water’s Edge fine selection of restaurants that boast more than just the view. Venues such as Seaview Bistro, Sunset Bar & Grill and Dattilo Fine Italian offer fresh, creative and bold, presenting flavors that are reminiscent of old world Italy. In addition to a rich, authentic menu, the wine list is abundant and the service is seamless and attentive.
Located on the pristine shores of Long Island Sound, the Spa at Water’s Edge offers guests an exceptional experience in a luxurious atmosphere. Highly skilled Massage Therapists and Estheticians perform a wide variety of decadent treatments including massages, facials, body treatments, and nail services. Guests have the option to indulge for an hour or a day, and enjoy an unparalleled spa experience tailored specifically for them.
There’s also no shortage of fun when visiting Water’s Edge Resort & Spa. From weekly live entertainment to ballroom events like Playhouse on the Shore and buffet dinners during tribute band performances, the property is always happening.
Water’s Edge Resort & Spa has created a series of special packages, each thoughtfully designed with the guest in mind. Overnight packages, day spa packages and special spa treatments that feature the flavors of the season are available online at www.watersedgeresortandspa.com
Champion of Tourism: State Representative Holly Cheeseman
Serving the 37th district of East Lyme and Salem, State Representative Holly Cheeseman works on the Finance, Revenue & Bonding, Energy & Technology, and Higher Education & Employment Advancement General Assembly Committees.
A native of New London and champion of tourism in Connecticut, Representative Cheeseman currently works as the Executive Director for the Southeastern Connecticut Children’s Museum. Previously, she was employed as a publishing executive in the United Kingdom. There, she was involved in the launch and publication of nine magazines relating to the computer industry, in both the general consumer and trade and technical markets.
In the community, Representative Cheeseman has served on the East Lyme Board of Selectmen since 2011. She is the current President of the East Lyme Library Board, and is the Vice Chair and past Chair of the East Lyme Republican Town Committee. In the past, she has also served as President and Vice President of the Creative Preschool, President of the Mount Holyoke Club of Southeastern Connecticut, member of the Curriculum Council of the East Lyme School system and member of the Board of Trustees of the East Lyme Public Library.
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