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The convention business “will take a while before coming back,” said Robert Murdock, president of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau. “It’s really all about safety right now, and getting the virus under control.”
Although one national forecast says that domestic travel spending will drop 40% this year, Connecticut Office of Tourism Director Randy Fiveash maintains that Connecticut's hospitality sector is “a very resilient industry,” and predicted that thousands of lost jobs will quickly be filled as the summer goes on.
“We are starting to plan for our economic recovery and continue to look to book events over the next couple of years,” says Thomas Madden, Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau chair and Director of Economic Development for Stamford.
The July 1 reopening of the state's six welcome centers has been a big plus. “They’re the front door to the state," says Connecticut Office of Tourism Director Randy Fiveash.
While the Connecticut Office of Tourism’s $4.3 million budget is only slightly more than last year – and a far cry from the $15 million high in 2011 during then-Gov. Dannel Malloy’s first year in office – it’s still better than the $1 it was slashed to in 2010 by Malloy’s predecessor, M. Jodi Rell.
Tax revenue from the sector for calendar year 2017 was $2.2 billion, including $960 million in state and local taxes.
The state final state budget of $20.86 billion included a decrease in funding for the Office of Tourism's from $6.4 million to $4.1 million. “It means we need to focus on the most effective and efficient ways to maximize the reach of our message,” Randy Fiveash, director of the Office, said.
Sen. Paul Formica has proposed dedicating 1.5 percent of the hotel occupancy tax to tourism needs.
Randy Fiveash will serve as the chairman of the board, which includes tourism directors from all six New England states, for the next two calendar years.
The program’s mission is to work more closely with regional groups to help support Connecticut’s $14 billion tourism industry.
Meanwhile, the Western Connecticut Convention and Visitors Bureau in Litchfield is hoping to persuade lawmakers to restore financing.
CTvisit.com provides information on more than 4,000 places to visit, stay and eat in the state, along with listings of vacation deals and events.