The 2020 session is upon us. Connecticut tourism needs your support.
Out of the busy holiday season and into a new year of opportunities and challenges, the Connecticut Tourism Coalition is continuing the fight for a stronger Connecticut Tourism economy. We have a short session this year, and it’s more important than ever to keep the pressure on our lawmakers and ensure that supporting Connecticut tourism is at the top of their priorities. I urge all of our membership to talk to their representatives about how important a strong tourism economy is to our businesses, our culture and our quality of life.
We will have a unique opportunity to directly hear from one of our elected officials at our first board meeting on Friday, March 13th at 10:00 a.m. at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme. Senator Cathy Osten will be speaking regarding pending Gaming and Casino bills. Randy Fiveash will also be attending to update members on Connecticut’s plans for spring and summer programming.
In addition to comments by Senator Osten, our March board meeting will also feature presentation by Rhode Island’s Director of Tourism, Mark Brodeur, to share his thoughts on the Rhode Island tourism economy and how Connecticut can replicate their successes. I look forward to seeing all of you at our first board meeting of 2020.
Our work does not stop when the board meeting ends, rather we are only just getting started. The 2020 Tourism Advocacy Day is Monday, March 16th at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, and it is one of our best opportunities to speak directly to lawmakers about the importance of the Connecticut tourism economy. The CTC is partnering with the Arts and Tourism Alliance to join together and show our representatives that we are united in our belief that an investment in tourism is an investment in Connecticut’s future. I’m calling on all of you to join us in Hartford to drive that message forward. Tourism Advocacy Day will run from 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. and will be followed by a meeting of the Arts, Culture and Tourism caucus led by Senator Paul Formica at the Legislative Office Building from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
2020 is a year full of opportunities, but we need the support of our entire membership to build on the good work we have been doing. Your support is carries more weight than a simple vote, and it is our strength in numbers that turns heads and gets the attention of our representatives. Last year, we saw many new lawmakers capture what we have been saying and become tourism champions, we need to keep that pressure going until every lawmaker in Connecticut agrees: and investment in tourism is an investment in Connecticut. I look forward to seeing all of you on March 13th.
Stephen Tagliatela, President
MEMBER spotlight: DATTCO
As an avid supporter of tourism and a partner to our tourism districts, DATTCO stepped forward in 2019 as more than an advocate, they are literally showing Connecticut off to the Northeast. Last May, DATTCO unveiled two motor coaches that will travel on Northeastern U.S. and Connecticut highways, and will generate between 30,000 and 70,000 views per day over the next two years.
“Connecticut has so much to offer the region, we are proud to be partnering with the state to drive traffic to CTVisit.com so that travelers can fully immerse themselves in everything Connecticut has to offer,” said Donald DeVivo, president, DATTCO, Inc. “It’s time for everyone to see what Connecticut has in store for them.”
As a Connecticut family-owned business, headquartered in New Britain, DATTCO stands beside the CTC in its mission to grow Connecticut’s tourism economy. For more information about DATTCO and their fleet, visit www.DATTCO.com.
STATE SENATOR TONY HWANG
As a State Senator serving Connecticut’s 28th district and the ranking member of the Housing, Higher Education, and Public Safety & Security committees, Tony Hwang is a veteran Republican lawmaker that is committed to a stronger quality of life in Connecticut. Currently in his 3rd term as Senator, Tony carries the historic honor of being Connecticut’s first Asian-Pacific State Senator.
As a member of the Arts, Culture and Tourism Caucus, Hwang not only recognizes the importance Connecticut’s tourism economy, but he is actively fighting for it. Hwang was one of many lawmakers who supported the 2018/2019 budget proposal that would have brought additional sate investment in tourism marketing.
In addition to his work as ranking member of three committees, Hwang is a lawmaker who votes with his conscience, earning a perfect 100% score in the 2019 Connecticut League of Conservation Voters environmental scorecard. His commitment to Connecticut’s tourism economy and Connecticut’s environment showcases Hwang’s commitment to a high quality of life in Connecticut.
Hwang currently resides in Fairfield Connecticut with his wife and two children. As a graduate from Cornell University, Hwang holds a Bachelor’s Degree in labor relations and organizational behavior. He is currently involved in residential real estate.
The CTC is Building the Future of Connecticut Tourism
The holidays are upon us once more! It has been an incredible year for Connecticut tourism, and I want to take this opportunity to thank each of our members for their unwavering support of our mission and Connecticut tourism. It has been a year of ups and down, but overall our state has taken some steps forward in supporting Connecticut’s tourism economy.
This year, we saw a stop to the declining tourism budget that we had previously seen year after year, the reopening of Connecticut’s welcome centers and the development of a new advisory committee created by Governor Lamont that will have a larger say in shaping Connecticut’s tourism policy. There are incredible achievements, and they could not have been accomplished without the support of our tourism champions in Hartford, our advocates, and our vocal membership. While there are areas for improvement, we have an administration that is willing to listen, and we need to continue taking action, calling our representatives and shouting our support for Connecticut tourism from the rooftops.
Earlier this year, the Arts & Culture Transition Team presented a number of recommendations to our newly elected Governor in order to provide expert advice on how Connecticut can not only support tourism, but also generate a return for the general fund through its investment. While the Speaker’s Blue Ribbon Panel on tourism did adopt many of these recommendations, we unfortunately did not see the state take these critical steps in 2019, and now it is on us to engage with our lawmakers and recruit more tourism champions to ensure everyone understands how investing in tourism an investment in our state economy. That’s something everyone can get behind.
With the shortened holiday season, our businesses are experiencing one of their busiest times of the year within the span of three weeks. As we see this heightened activity, I can’t stop but wonder what it would be like to experience a similar activity when the trees are budding, or on a hot summer day. Connecticut is more than a holiday state, and we need to keep fighting for state support in order to fully utilize our potential.
I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season, and look forward to speaking with all of you again in 2020.
Member Spotlight: Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut
The Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut is spreading holiday cheer with unique events all season long. With hands-on cookies and crafts workshops and Frozen-themed science and craft stations, the Children’s Museum makes a great destination for families seeking a fun outing in Connecticut.
Countdown to Noon is the top New Year’s celebration for children and families. The museum will be ringing in the New Year a little early with a 250+ balloon drop at the East Lyme Community Center. Enjoy food from the Rolling Tomato food truck, arts and crafts, and a photo booth. Even the museum critters will join in the fun.
The Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut is an interactive, hands-on, educational place that gives children the opportunity to explore their imaginations and the world around them. Unique activities provide something for children of all ages. Older children can enjoy “Museum Challenges” like scavenger hunts or science-based activities in the Discovery Room.
With so much fun packed indoors, the museum is a top Connecticut destination this winter. For more information, please visit www.childrensmuseumsect.org.
State Representative Chris Perone
State Representative Chris Perone serves the 137th District of the Connecticut General Assembly. Currently in his 5th term as Norwalk’s representative, Perone serves as chair of the Transportation subcommittee in Appropriations. Top priorities that Perone support include investment in Connecticut’s public schools and reducing wasteful government spending. The CTC enjoyed the opportunity to hear Chris speak at the last CTC board meeting on November 8th.
“As a state representative I’ve appreciated the CTC’s thorough review of the status of Connecticut’s tourism industry,” said Perone at the November CTC board meeting. “It is one thing to know that tourism helps our state, but it’s another to see the data points and understand the economics. I look forward to sharing the information provided by the CTC with fellow legislatures so they can appraise the state of our tourism industry.”
In his support of Connecticut tourism, Perone came out as an early supporter of the Speaker’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Tourism, which laid the groundwork for the reopening of Connecticut’s Welcome Centers and improvements to Connecticut’s highway tourism signage. Perone has also advocated for improving Connecticut’s information infrastructure by creating the Connecticut Broadband Internet Coordinating Council, which ensures that Connecticut residents and businesses have access to high-speed internet.
A graduate of Syracuse University, Perone received his Bachelor’s degree in Advertising, then went on to receive his MBA from the University of Connecticut. Perone currently lives with his wife and teenage son in Norwalk.
LET’S CHAT CONNECTICUT!
The next month promises to be a busy month for the CTC. Now that the new administration has had an opportunity to get started, CTC is engaging with our representatives to work toward a stronger tourism economy. I urge all our members to get involved with our efforts and write their lawmakers to encourage our government to invest in Connecticut Tourism. In particular, I want to draw attention to bill SB 192, a bill being spearheaded by Senator Heather Somers to re-open the Connecticut Visitor Welcome Centers. The CTC has submitted public testimony, and I encourage all of you to share your support as well.
Looking ahead, the first CTC board meeting of 2019 will be on March 15th from 9 am to noon at Mohegan Sun, I look forward to seeing all of you there. As part of the growing partnerships between tourism and the arts, this year the CTC has partnered with the Connecticut Arts Alliance to host Arts, Culture, + Tourism Advocacy Day on April 8th. This event will be held at the Legislative office building in downtown Hartford and will incorporate a meeting of the Tourism Caucus. This is a great opportunity for our tourism community to meet with our legislators and advocate for a stronger tourism economy. Tables will also be available for CTC members to showcase their products and services.
In addition to our legislative efforts, I am pleased to announce that the Connecticut Hospitality Awareness Program (CHAT) program has successfully launched and is now live. For more information or to enroll in this incredible new tool for training Connecticut’s hospitality staff, visit CHATCertificate.com.
Tourism is a powerful tool that can be used to Connecticut’s advantage. Governor Lamont’s budget address focused on balancing the state budget, and our legislators need to understand how tourism can become a revenue generator for Connecticut. I look forward to working with all of your as we discuss next steps.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: SYSCO FOODS
Sysco Foods is the world’s largest food distributor providing its services in 90 different countries. The company is a global leader in selling, marketing, and distributing food and non-food products. The Connecticut segment of this food service company, Sysco Connecticut, has been operating in Rocky Hill with the goal of helping their customers succeed since 1995.
Sysco Connecticut provides goods to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, and lodging establishments throughout Connecticut, Western Massachusetts and Northern Westchester County in New York. Sysco is an asset to their customers as well as the local community, providing almost 300 local residents with employment.
As a hub for exemplary restaurants, inns, and hotels Connecticut benefits from having a branch of this culinary leader in its business community. Sysco Connecticut shares its vast experience and innovative ingredients, providing our local businesses with all things cutting edge in food service.
Sysco Connecticut is an asset to business across the region, helping Connecticut’s restaurants and lodging provide their customers with a unique and enjoyable culinary experience.
POLITICAL SPOTLIGHT: STATE REPRESENTATIVE NOREEN KOKORUDA
Serving the 101st District of the Connecticut, State Representative Noreen Kokoruda serves Connecticut in the General Assembly as the representative of Durham and her hometown of Madison. Kokoruda has held this position since 2011 and in November of 2018 she was reelected for her fifth term.
Kokoruda has kept her communities as the forefront of her decision making throughout her legislative career. Her recent accomplishments include working with representatives from Branford to secure a $1 million grant to renovate the James Blackstone Memorial Library in Branford and the E.C. Scranton Library in Madison.
Representing both a Connecticut waterfront and inland community, Kokoruda understands the powerful impact that tourism can have on our local economies. Her communities embrace the power of tourism, and enjoy the fun of summertime opportunities at Hammonasset Beach, the celebrations of the Durham Fair in the autumn and the year round historical opportunities make Durham and Madison pristine examples of why visitors come to our state.
Kokoruda serves on the Planning and Development, Children, Appropriations and Education committees for the General Assembly. She also holds the position of House Republican Deputy Leader for the Legislative Management committee. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Pace University and a Masters from Southern Connecticut State University.
While raising her two sons in Madison, Kokoruda dedicated herself to supporting the educational welfare of her community. She served on 3 PTO’s, and fought on behalf of students to gain better educational materials. Kokoruda continues to support the education system in her hometown and was recently recognized by the Connecticut Association for the Gifted for her legislative advocacy of gifted children.
CTC WORKS FOR A STRONGER CONNECTICUT ECONOMY
Happy New Year everyone! 2019 looks to be a busy year for the Arts, Culture and Tourism (ACT) in Connecticut. With a newly sworn in administration, we currently have the opportunity to fully utilize Connecticut’s ACT potential. Over the years, we have had been in a great position to work with many of our members to help shape a better business and cultural environment for Connecticut, and now it is time to utilize those partnerships to build a stronger state.
As many of you are aware, late last year I represented the Connecticut Tourism Coalition on Governor Lamont’s Arts and Tourism transition team alongside many of our state’s business, cultural and community leaders. Our mission was to provide recommendations for growing Connecticut ACT opportunities under the Lamont administration. As part of our review, we emphasized the need for marketing Connecticut in our neighboring states, re-opening the Connecticut Welcome Centers, and a secured source of funding for growing Connecticut’s cultural and tourism brand. Governor Lamont now understands the return on investment that investing in ACT will bring to the state, and we will continue to work with the new administration to ensure the unique identity and opportunities in Connecticut are not ignored.
The Connecticut budget is one of the top issues for this legislative cycle, and one of Lamont’s promises is to balance the volatile books. As the new administration takes its first steps, it is more important than ever to communicate with our lawmakers and tell them that investing in Connecticut ACT programs is a solution that provides millions of dollars in state tax revenue. For too long the industry has been viewed as an auxiliary luxury in Connecticut, it’s time to change that perception.
To Governor Lamont; during your campaign, you proclaimed that if elected you would be “Connecticut’s biggest cheerleader.” There is no better way to cheer for our state than to invest in the tools we need to market our unique destinations and hospitality. We need to drive visitors to Connecticut to experience our culture, enjoy our communities, and truly understand why Connecticut is such a great place to live and work.
I look forward to a strong and productive year with our membership. I have been honored to work with such a diverse group of people who care so passionately about our state. Let’s make 2019 the year of ACT in Connecticut.
The Lamont-Bysiewicz Policy Committee for Connecticut Arts, Culture and Tourism.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: THE ESSEX
The Connecticut River has long been utilized for its abundance of natural resources. The fertile land with deep roots in local farming surrounding the river is now an inspiration for The Essex restaurant. The Essex’s highlights New England culture while offering an upscale dining experience.
Inspired by the plentiful nature of Connecticut’s land Chef and co-owner Colt Taylor chose to set his restaurant in the town of Essex in historic Connecticut River Valley. Taylor’s passion for the outdoors is reflected in his locally sourced American cuisine. Taylor has fostered relationships with local farmers and fishermen including Terra Firma Farms, Niantic Bay Shellfish co., and more to provide quality ingredients.
The Essex’s menu is built around locally sourced ingredients which integrate New England flavor’s into each dish while incorporating international flavors. The menu at The Essex is constantly evolving, and the 3-course prix fixe is recommended to truly experience what the restaurant has to offer. The 30 seat dining experience accommodates both private parties and reservations.
The Essex’s has been highlighted as one of Connecticut’s notable culinary venues through a multitude of awards. The restaurant was awarded CT Bites Top 100 Restaurants in Connecticut, Best Cocktails by CT magazine, and Best New Restaurant Yankee Magazine and New England Travel Magazine. Connecticut magazine also named chef Colt Taylor an Up and Coming Chef in Connecticut.
Co-owners Michael Hannifan and Colt Taylor have produced a culinary experience at The Essex which pays tribute to its surroundings through the offering of exquisite and locally sourced cuisine.
For more information, please visit www.theessex.com.
POLITICAL SPOTLIGHT: STATE REPRESENTATIVE SEAN SCANLON
A Guilford native and advocate for the strong tourism economy along Connecticut’s shoreline, Representative Sean Scanlon is currently serving his second term representing the 98th Connecticut district, which includes the towns of Guilford and Branford.
Scanlon believes improving CT tourism “is about strategy, communication, and partnerships. We just need to do a better job managing all of that.”
“Tourism is a big part of Connecticut’s next steps,” said Scanlon. “In concert with turning this around at the budget level, we need to be communicating our assets with our visitors, and I look forward to working with our lawmakers and local businesses to make that happen.”
After seeing the effects of tourism on the economy of his home town, Scanlon is encouraged by the thriving nature of our local tourist attractions. Scanlon hopes to work with the Department of Transportation to provide more signage on Connecticut highways to help send the message to visitors that Connecticut is “open for business”.
In July of 2018, Scanlon backed an initiative to support the longevity of the Shoreline Trolley Museum. This project will enhance visitors experience through new public facilities, in addition to improving Shoreline Trolley Museums fire suppression systems. Scanlon collaborated with a bipartisan team of Connecticut lawmakers to secure state support to fund these improvements.
Before being elected State Representative, Guilford native Sean Scanlon learned the importance of public service from his father a police officer. After graduating from Boston College, Scanlon worked in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office as a victim advocate.
Scanlon joined the staff of Senator Chris Murphy in 2009 before winning the election for his first term in 2014. Scanlon currently serves as the Chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee. He is also a member of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, as well as the Public Health and Transportation Committees. In addition, Scanlon is a member of the Guilford Economic Development Commission.
Scanlon is an active member of his community and works as a volunteer organizer for the Guilford Fund for Education, Vote Yes For Guilford’s Future, and Guilford 4 Full Day Kindergarten. He currently lives in Guilford with his wife, Meghan.