Vermont Public Radio: Vermont's Travel Industry is developing a coordinated and proactive strategy to encourage people from out of state to visit Vermont during the upcoming fall foliage season.
As VPR's Bob Kinzel reports, the state's Tourism Department website will play a critical role in telling visitors which flood damaged areas (as a result of Hurricane Irene) should be avoided.
VPR's Bob Kinzel reports:
Kinzel: The message from Vermont's Travel Industry is quite simple - as the critical fall foliage season approaches, most of Vermont is open and accessible. Here's Tourism Commissioner Megan Smith on a public service radio announcement that's getting wide airplay throughout the northeast:
Smith: "We also need to remember that many regions of our state were not severely impacted please support Vermont businesses by visiting, dining and buying their products. For the latest information please visit vermontvacation.com."
That website vermontvacation.com has become the focal point for the Travel Industry this fall. The goal is to direct visitors to the website so that they can see firsthand what areas of the state are easily accessible.
There's a lot at stake for the Vermont economy. According to the state's Tourism Department, 3.5 million people visit Vermont each fall and they spend roughly $330 million. Steve Cook is the Deputy Commissioner of Tourism:
Cook: "We're coming into one of our most critical times of (the) year in Vermont. What we're known for around the world around the globe which is our fall foliage season and it's a really critical time of year for Vermont businesses."
Cook says it was critical to develop a pro-active strategy because of the misperception that much of Vermont is closed for business:
Cook: "There were a lot of cancellations. There's a significant majority of out-of-state consumers who had the perception that most of Vermont was closed and in fact it was about 20 to 25 percent of Vermont was seriously impacted in the days after and that percentage has gotten smaller and smaller."
Kinzel: Parker Rhiele is the director of the Vermont Ski Areas Association. His says his group is an active member of this coalition because he's heard a number of false rumors that some of Vermont's ski areas won't be able to open this winter:
Rhiele: "One of the best things we can do is to ensure that not only the fall foliage economy is on track with all pistons firing that's such a critical part of our economy but that the word is out and very clear that we'll be wide open and ready to go for the ski season as well."
Kinzel: The state is developing a new media campaign to reflect the current circumstances and officials hope to roll out the key elements of this campaign in the next few days.