A 'revolutionary' wrinkle: 'Connecticut Treasures'

Mystic - In Connecticut, the branding continues.

The state, which in May rolled out "Still Revolutionary," a tourism marketing campaign touting the state's history, will now promote certain attractions as "Connecticut Treasures," providing free or reduced admission for visitors under 18 and incorporating the sites in newly developed school curricula.

State Sen. Andrew Maynard, D-Stonington, described the initiative Wednesday at an outdoor press conference at Mystic Aquarium, which is sure to be named a "treasure," as is Mystic Seaport. He said the "Connecticut Treasures" program was part of the 2012 jobs bill passed last week during a special session of the state legislature.

"We're dripping with history," Maynard said. "The idea behind the bill is to identify them and promote them around the state, New England and the world."

With beluga whales gliding by in an aquarium exhibit, speakers extolled the link between tourism and economic development. Maynard was joined by Randy Fiveash, director of the state tourism office; Peter Glankoff, executive vice president of the aquarium; Stephen White, president of Mystic Seaport; and Tricia Cunningham, president of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce.

"We want more visitors to come," said Fiveash, who displayed an advertising panel from the "Still Revolutionary" campaign. He said it was too early to judge the success of the campaign, which eventually will be assessed by such measures as attendance at attractions, hotel occupancy rates and restaurant revenues.

Traffic on the state tourism website, CTvisit.com, doubled last month compared to May 2011, Fiveash said.The campaign's ads have been airing on TV, radio, billboards and in print media throughout the state and in Boston, Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey. They will continue to appear through Labor Day.

The "Connecticut Treasures" program charges the commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development with identifying state attractions that have cultural, educational or historic significance. In addition to the Mystic attractions, leading candidates include the Connecticut Science Center and the Mark Twain House, both in Hartford, and Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill.

A key feature of the program is the "Connecticut Treasures Passport," which will provide free or reduced admission to the designated attractions for visitors under 18 who are accompanied by a teacher or parent. The DECD will develop curricula incorporating the attractions and distribute it to teachers across the state.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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