NH Attractions Open During Federal Government Shutdown

The Kancamagus Highway in Autumn

The Kancamagus Highway in Autumn

Columbus Day Weekend is one of the busiest weekends for tourism in New Hampshire. In fact, it is traditionally the third busiest weekend of the year, after the Fourth of July and Labor Day. State officials don’t expect that to be any different this year, despite the federal government shutdown, as most parks and attractions are either privately owned or run by the state—not the federal government.

“I can’t say how many people have asked, ‘Aren’t the parks getting shut down?’ No, they’re state parks, not federal parks,” says Tai Freligh, communications manager for the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism. Continue reading

NH Tourism Expected to be Lively This Winter

The New England Pond Hockey Classic will return to Meredith February 3rd

State tourism officials announced this week that winter travel in New Hampshire is expected to show increased amounts of visitors and spending, providing a positive outlook for the 2011 – 2012 season.  This is good news, especially considering that the tourism industry across the Northeast took a big hit at the end of summer when Hurricane Irene passed through.

According to a report prepared for the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development (DTTD) by the Institute for New Hampshire Studies (INHS), an estimated 6.6 million people are predicted to visit during this year’s winter season, up by three percent from last year.  Spending by tourists and business travelers is expected to increase as well, with the projection being seven percent above last winter, possibly reaching about $850 million.  Studies show that December, January, and February see approximately 18 percent of all traveler visits and 20 percent of total traveler spending annually.

The big draw in the wintertime is New Hampshire’s abundance of wilderness and skiing, as well as tax-free shopping.  “Outdoor recreation, including skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling, and shopping are the most popular reasons for visiting New Hampshire during the winter,” said Lori Harnois, Director for DTTD.  “While here, visitors can check out zip-lines, mountain coasters, dog-sledding, and other winter fun.” Continue reading

Columbus Day Weekend – The High Point of Autumn in NH

Visitors to the Lakes Region of NH are in for a treat this weekend, as the weather is predicted to be warm and sunny, and the fall foliage is starting to display its brilliant, changing colors.  It’s the perfect time for a drive to the White Mountains or around Lake Winnipesaukee!

“This year’s fall foliage show is a little different, in that its splash has been steady, rather than an explosion of color we’ve seen in other years,” says Jayne O’Connor, president of White Mountains Attractions.  ”What this means for visitors is that there will be a long patchwork of yellows, oranges and, of course, the bright reds that are the signature of the season.”

The high point of fall in NH has long been Columbus Day Weekend, when peak colors often coincide with the three-day holiday.  For many local businesses and attractions, the foliage combined with the nice weather should provide a boost in this year’s tourist season, which weathered a few challenges over the summer.

“For many of our attractions, the summer of 2011 was on track to be above what it was in 2010,” O’Connor says.  ”July and August were very strong, but that momentum was sidetracked when tropical storm Irene paid a visit.   It took us a couple weeks to repair roads and replace bridges, but everything is open and we are back on track welcoming visitors for the foliage season.”

Travelers can find the best colors by taking the scenic routes.  “Fun itineraries for visitors include following the color along what used to be called ‘shun-pikes,’ like Route 153 through Madison, Route 112 through Kinsman Notch, or Route 117 over Sugar Hill,” says O’Connor.  A good resource is also New England Times online foliage tracker, which has been updated recently to show changing to peak colors throughout the state right now.

Visitors to the Lakes Region of NH can also enjoy the Sandwich Fair while on their foliage excursion.  This annual tradition has taken place for over a century, and is one of the biggest fairs in New England.  With dozens of 4-H exhibits, food contests, tractor shows, and even a poetry reading, Sandwich Fair truly has something for everyone.  All the fun is listed on the fair’s website here.

Wherever you decide to wander this weekend, you are sure to experience the quintessential, picture-perfect New England fall.  Don’t forget to share your stories and photos with us!

Carrie Reed
The Mill Falls Blogging Team

Image credit: Glass_House at Flickr.com

Announcing the NH Dream Vacation Photo Contest!

28431_396240658294_98723213294_4252531_5771895_nSome exciting news from our friends at Visit NH:  The New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development (DTTD) has just announced the launch of its 2nd annual New Hampshire Dream Vacation Photo Contest, which will take place this summer from May 24th – September 6th.  The winner of the online photo contest will receive a custom-designed New Hampshire Dream Vacation worth $2,500, and five additional contestants will win $500 each in the popular vote.  Irving Oil will also offer gas gift cards in the amount of $50 that will be awarded weekly to randomly selected contest participants.

“We encourage every NH resident and visitor to explore and enjoy the state, take photos with the ‘I Love it Here’ signs along the way, and upload them to our site,” said Alice DeSouza, Director of the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development.  “Last year’s contest was wildly successful with residents and visitors alike joining in the fun.”

To play, go to www.NHDreamVacation.com and download the “I Love it Here” sign.  Print out the sign and bring it with you as you visit your favorite places in New Hampshire, including The Inns and Spa at Mill Falls.  At these scenic spots, take photos of yourself or a travelling companion with the “I Love it Here” sign and make sure there’s an identifier in the photo, such as a location sign or easily-recognizable building.  Upload one to five of these images to the contest website, where participants can vote on their favorite photos.  Friends and family members can vote too!

“Once again, we expect residents will want to vacation right here in New Hampshire, and will spend time exploring the mountains, lakes, and seacoast,” said DeSouza. “Everybody loves to seek out the unexpected and unusual locations, and we believe this contest will trigger that excitement in all of us.  So go grab your cameras, your signs, and challenge yourself to find the coolest spot in NH to snap a photo!”

Carrie Reed
The Mill Falls Blogging Team

Senators promote Travel Promotion Act for international tourism in Meredith NH

by Sarah Schmidt
August 12, 2009

MEREDITH — Democratic Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Amy Klobuchar came to Meredith this week to promote the Travel Promotion Act, a bill they said would develop programs aimed at increasing international tourism in the United States.
Shaheen said that the Travel Promotion Act would create a public-private partnership to promote tourism in the United States, especially among international travelers. The Act establishes the Corporation for Travel Promotion, a non-profit corporation, governed by an 11-member board of directors appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. The Act would also create an Office of Travel Promotion to create programs to increase the number of international visitors. Klobuchar, a Senator from Minnesota, oversees the Senate Subcommittee responsible for tourism.

Since tourism is New Hampshire’s second-biggest industry, employing 67,000 people, Shaheen said that the Act was important to the state’s future. After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, she said the country had seen a marked decrease in the number of international tourists coming to the United States. The state collects $212 million in rooms and meals taxes every year, and about $132 million of that amount comes from out-of-state visitors.

“I remember being surprised that there was no promotion, that we never had anyone to do international marketing,” said Shaheen. “International tourists stay longer, spend more than the (domestic) tourist, and go back to their home country with a positive view of the United States. We will see help for all 50 states as part of the bill.”

Klobuchar said that part of the bill would deal with making it easier to get visas done sooner, “so that they don’t go to France instead.” She noted that she had been surprised to learn that New Hampshire marketed to Canadian visitors.

Shaheen said that there would be an assessment of $10 per visa, with a cap of $100 million, and that Canadians would be exempt from this increase. Klobuchar said that with an increase in fees for the visas, the offices that issued them could afford to hire more staff, shortening the wait time for visa approval.

If the act was not signed into law, Klobuchar said she believed the country would lose another 27,000 tourism-related jobs in the next year. The Act, she said, is the first bill slotted to go on the Senate floor in the next legislative session, and has already been passed by the House.

“For the first time, we’d be promoting our country internationally, like France,” said Klobuchar. “People are booking later, not planning ahead like they used to.”

Both senators encouraged members of the public and some of the local tourism leaders in attendance to contact local legislators and ask them to support the bill. Shaheen said that President Barack Obama was willing to sign the bill when it is slated to come up in September. While she noted that a number of the bill’s original sponsors did not vote for it in the end, she attributed their actions to amendments that other legislators were attempting to tack onto it.

Lori Harnois of the International Marketing Office in the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism, Amy Landers, Lakes Region Association Executive Director, and Jim Morash of the M/S Mount Washington and board director of the LRA, all spoke in support of the bill.

“As a captain and co-owner of the M/S Mount Washington, I’ve learned how important tourism is to the area,” said Morash. “I also thank the senators for their support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which allowed us to invest in clean diesel technology, allowing us to replace the engines for the first time since 1946.”