By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Sun
CONCORD — Tourism is the state’s second largest tax revenue generator, and fall draws the second largest number of visitors among the state’s four distinct seasons.
Standing in bright sunshine at a podium labeled “Live Free,” Gov. Chris Sununu touted the state’s autumn season on Thursday in front of the granite State House steps where corn stalks and hay bales, plus colorful pumpkins, chrysanthemums, apples and peaches were artfully displayed.
Taylor Caswell, commissioner of the newly created state Department of Business and Economic Affairs, joined Sununu, along with Amy Bassett, deputy director of the state Division of Travel and Tourism Development, and Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Merrill, now completing her final three months in office. All four discussed the importance and the impact of tourism on New Hampshire’s economy.
The Granite State’s beauty is unmatched, the governor said, pointing out that he had attended the four-day Deerfield Fair. “Fall tourism statistics on average have stays of 2.6 nights and number 3.2 people — however that works — and on-average spending of $803 per trip,” said Sununu. Gas prices are low now, he said.
Caswell, a Littleton native, reported that tourism has been strong across the state, with the 9 percent rooms and meals tax up by 5 percent in Fiscal Year 2017 and strong road toll collections in the second half of the summer. New Hampshire’s natural landscapes draw people here and some people decide to move here to make a living, he said.
“Coming off a summer of limitless adventures, our fall marketing campaign is based on the same theme,” explained Bassett, a Franconia native. “The campaign highlights the pick-your-own experience, scenic drives, and outdoor adventure. The fall effort targets millennials all the way through boomers and beyond who are interested in exploring the great outdoors and autumn scenery. The department’s focus is in the Boston, New York, Montreal and Toronto markets.
“The campaign uses digital media outlets and a variety of social channels to deliver the ‘limitless’ message, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and our own Live Free with Kris blog.
“The goal is to position New Hampshire as a premiere year-round vacation destination and to drive potential visitors to our website visitnh.gov. In fact, VisitNH.gov’s summer site was recognized by Skift, the travel industry’s largest intelligence platform, as one of the top 25 tourism board websites in the world. The website was highlighted for its captivating photos and video as well as its trip inspiration generator function.
“For fall on visitnh.gov we launched a more interactive foliage tracker that enables visitors to get current reports, be inspired with photo op locations, discover scenic drives and view Instagram images by region,” Bassett explained. “New Hampshire delivers limitless adventure, limitless color and limitless memories — like no other state.”
Merrill thanked Carter Hall Orchard for generously providing apples, donuts, cider, and other seasonal treats from its pick-your-own farm. Apple and pumpkin picking plus corn mazes and hay rides have grown exponentially in the last 15 or 20 years, the dairy farmer said. She said, “Agritourism on working farms has added some $3.8 million to farmers’ income in recent years,” she said.
Sununu concluded the promotion by saying that nowhere on the planet is there a better place than New Hampshire for families, friends and couples to come than to the state’s welcoming farms to enjoy what they and the whole state has to offer.