The Senate Education Committee met on Thursday to discuss marketing our higher education institutions.
Heather Pelham (Commissioner, Department of Tourism and Marketing) talked to the Committee about the Vermont brand. She sees tourism and marketing’s economic impact on Vermont every day:
- 13M visitors, including overnight, day and drive-through visitors
- $3.2B travel spending at attractions, lodging and dining establishments
- 31,489 jobs in the tourism industry
- $387M total tax revenue generated by tourism activity
The Commissioner talked about the various “tag lines” used to promote Vermont:
"A place all its own"
"Family traditions are just waiting to be launched"
"Recharge through Vermont's natural beauty"
"Beyond the everyday"
"The end of the trail is only the beginning"
"Vermont: the long trail home"
Pelham pointed out that their budget is only $3.5M as compared to $10M in New Hampshire. Only 12 people are assigned to do all the work that is expected of tourism and marketing. Tourism is the second largest source of dollars coming into the state, while manufacturing is first. Their strategy is focused on the bottom up, it’s the face- to-face interactions that sell Vermont. The department uses all the tools it has available: digit marketing, social media, website, videos, tv state advertising, ads in New York featuring the train ride to Burlington, and working with other publishers to write about Vermont.
Betsy Bishop (Executive Director, Vermont Chamber of Commerce) spoke about the small budget that the department has to work with. The Chamber's top three priorities are:
- Vermont’s economy
She said we need to reach out to people to move here and join our workforce and live the rest of their lives in Vermont. We have an aging population that has clearly dropped out of the workforce. An interesting note she made was that even if all the college students that graduate in Vermont were to stay, it still wouldn’t fill the employment gap.
Bishop said the solution is to invest money in tourism and marketing and make a long-term commitment to the effort. Tell people about what is right in Vermont and let them know we want them to come to live and work and play in Vermont. The Chamber is proposing that the state give travel and marketing an additional $1M to focus on getting people to move here. We need to build a brand to make Vermont a place people want to come and join our workforce.