Officials suggest Connecticut needs a new tourism slogan

Hartford — Might Connecticut’s “still revolutionary” days be numbered?

It seemed like a reasonable question Wednesday by the time the General Assembly’s tourism caucus wrapped up its first meeting of the new legislative session. At one point, the discussion suggested the state’s 5-year-old tourism slogan — once heralded as part of former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s $27 million commitment to statewide marketing — could be headed for the trash bin. 

“The consensus was that it doesn’t work,” Lisa Scails, a member of Gov. Ned Lamont’s transition policy committee on arts, culture and tourism, said of the slogan. “I want to be clear about that. It doesn’t work.”

She said the consensus she was referring to was the majority of the committee’s 20 members, a group that includes Scails, executive director of the Danbury-based Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut.

Rep. Patricia Dillon, D-New Haven, a caucus member, brought up the subject.

“I never got a sense that ‘Still Revolutionary’ was tied to specific destinations,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how it applied to some of the destinations in Connecticut,” particularly those without a clear link to 1776.

Wendy Bury, the policy committee co-chairwoman and executive director of the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition, said the committee didn’t get into the “merits” of the slogan or, more broadly, the state’s marketing efforts under the Malloy administration, “but agreed it needed to be refreshed.”

The other committee co-chairman, Stephen Tagliatela, co-owner of the Saybrook Point Inn, Marina & Spa in Old Saybrook, recalled an earlier state tourism slogan: “We’re Full of Surprises.”

“I don’t know anybody who goes on vacation and wants surprises,” he said.

William Hosley, a cultural resources consultant who was a member of the group that came up with the “Still Revolutionary” slogan back in 2012, said Connecticut officials then relied on an out-of-state firm that devised a tourism marketing campaign that “cost five figures.”

“We could do better for a lot less,” he said.

Members of the committee and the caucus see the change in governors as an opportunity to reorder and renew the state’s arts, culture and tourism industries.

The 40-member caucus, which includes most of the southeastern delegation, is co-chaired by Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, and Rep. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven. Borer replaced former Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, who did not seek re-election in November.

Committee members discussed recommendations they first made public last month, urging lawmakers to pass legislation that would divert 25 percent of the revenue generated by the state’s lodging tax to an Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund. Sixty percent of the fund would be allocated to tourism and 40 percent to arts and culture – about $19 million and $13 million, respectively.

The committee’s other top priorities include the creation of a Cultural Facilities Fund that would support construction projects at cultural facilities and the establishment of a task force that would examine the way the state distributes funds to the arts, culture and tourism community.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

 

 

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