Bay State Readies Tourism Blitz

Faced with the potential loss this year of $250 million in revenue in the wake of September’s terror attacks, the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism is scrambling to launch a campaign de signed to entice visitors back to the Bay State.

“Our message is, there’s never been a better time to book a Massachusetts getaway,” said Scott Mad den, svp/group ac count director at Bos ton’s CGN Marketing & Creative Services.

The campaign will initially consist of radio spots and Web banners that may break as soon as this week. The effort will target in-state residents as well as visitors from neighboring markets within driving distance, such as Hartford, Conn., and New York City. The effort will guide consumers to a revamped section of, MOTT’s Web site.

“We’re addressing the reality that there’s a lot of uncertainty about flying. Targeting people who can get here by car” is the best strategy, said Madden. The hijacked airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center departed from Boston’s Logan International Airport.

The effort will encourage travelers to take two- or three-day getaways and day trips and to take advantage of special of fers from hotels, restaurants and attractions around the state. Many hotels and attractions have been forced to cut rates since the attacks as occupancy levels have fallen by some estimates to 40 percent, down from 90 percent prior to Sept. 11.

At press time, CGN was hurrying to get the radio ads produced and design Web banners, Madden said. The shop’s past tourism efforts have been themed “You are here,” though the upcoming thrust will have no tag.

Last week, CGN presented a proposal for the six-week campaign to acting Gov. Jane Swift’s 18-member task force on tourism. Radio was chosen in an effort to reach the broadest audience for the least money as quickly as possible. In late September, tourism industry executives asked for $6 million in hotel taxes for an emergency campaign. The governor has not acted on that request, but MOTT made $225,000 earmarked for tourism spending in 2002 immediately available.

CGN believes it can execute effective ads for that amount, though tourism executives hope further funding, perhaps for TV or print ads, can be freed up. The state spent $3 million on tourism through the first half of 2001. Tourism contributes $12 billion and 143,000 jobs annually to the state’s economy. Industry groups estimate that the state could lose at least $250 million in tourism revenue by year’s end.