(Host) The Dover Select Board has voted to spend $100,000 on a marketing campaign to welcome visitors back to the Deerfield Valley after Tropical Storm Irene.
The town of Dover is dependent on tourism driven largely by nearby Mount Snow.
The Select Board decided last week to use some proceeds from the local one-percent sales tax to fund a marketing campaign.
Colby Dix serves on the Dover Select Board. He says the campaign will let people around New England know that Vermont and the Deerfield Valley are open for business.
(Dix) "It’s one of the benefits of having our local options tax. And though it has been controversial at times, when you can directly market and give some benefit back to all the businesses that have helped to support it, it’s kind of a no-brainer."
(Host) Dix says the message that ‘Vermont is open’ is important to emphasize. That’s because in the early days after the storm, the towns in the Deerfield Valley had asked people to stay away temporarily.
(Dix) "When the hurricane initially hit, the week after we had to have some really tough conversations with our second home owners and visitors to say, ‘Please don’t come just yet. Our roads aren’t ready. If you come up and hinder our ability to fix our infrastructure, then we can’t get ready for foliage or anything beyond that.’ But at this point, we’ve made just amazing strides."
(Host) The state has tried to manage those two messages – to give some towns space to rebuild, but to support the businesses that are still open.
Megan Smith is the tourism commissioner. She says visitors spend $332 million in Vermont during foliage season, but expects this year will be different.
(Smith) "I was out all weekend along Route 100 that had just re-opened, talking to business owners. And you know that’s business that they’re just not going to get back. And that’s tax dollars we’re not going to collect as a state. And I think that we have to really – right away, as soon as foliage season is over – we really have to get a grasp on what the damage has been."
(Host) Smith says major winter marketing campaigns are already under way. She says her long-term focus is on making sure tourism rebounds next fall and winter.