State tourism officials expect record revenues, record number of visitors during summer 2018

State tourism officials expect record revenues, record number of visitors during summer 2018

May 03. 2018 10:02PM

LACONIA — Aboard the M/S Mount Washington, the flagship of tourism in the Lakes Region, state officials made some bold predictions Thursday for the upcoming summer season, saying they expect 3.4 million visitors to come to New Hampshire who’ll spend nearly $2 billion while here.

Both the projected number of visitors and their possible spending would set records, according to the NH Division of Travel and Tourism Development (DTTD).

The DTTD said that the unofficial start of summer — Memorial Day weekend — will see 650,000 out-of-state visitors who’ll open their wallets to the tune of $120 million-plus.

The message was presented during a modified shakedown cruise on the 230-foot M/S Mount Washington. The cruises were becoming old hat, admitted Jim Morash, who is one of the ship’s captains, but thanks to a call from Gov. Chris Sununu, the 2018 cruise was repurposed as a statewide tourism kick off.

“It’s one of those times when one of my wacky ideas worked,” said Sununu, adding that the event, although in the Lakes Region, highlights the fact that all of New Hampshire has much to offer visitors.

“What we do in travel and tourism is such a big part of our culture, such a big part of our economy,” said Sununu.

District 1 Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, who represents what he called the “fun part of the state,” which includes the Lakes Region and the North Country, reminded cruise attendees, many of whom were members of chambers of commerce, that “yes, ladies and gentlemen, shopping is a travel and tourism opportunity,” a reference to destination malls in Tilton and North Conway.

Taylor Caswell, who is the commissioner of the Department of Business and Economic Affairs, said DTTD, which is under his authority, markets “the heck out of New Hampshire,” noting that the proof is in the $12 million increase from the same time last year in meals and rooms taxes collected by the state.

Caswell reminded everyone what most people on the Mount Washington already knew: tourism is New Hampshire’s second-largest industry.

DTTD Director Victoria Cimino said New Hampshire has gained an increased share in both the Boston and New York markets, adding that as part of her agency’s summer 2018 campaign, a building near Manhattan’s Holland Tunnel would be wrapped with a giant New Hampshire tourism ad.

In addition to the traditional markets of New York, Boston, Montréal, and Toronto, the DTTD will also roll out the campaign in Hartford, Portland, Providence, and Burlington.

Amy Landers, of the Lakes Region Association, said that tourism was hugely important to the Lakes Region in 2017, noting that 355,000 visitors came there last year and spent some $225 million, adding that over the past three years, there has annually been a 2.7 percent increase in overnight visits.