New Hampshire tourism officials are hoping for a strong winter season, with visitors and tourism spending expected to return to pre-COVID levels.
The New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism is projecting more than 3 million visitors and spending to surpass $1.2 billion, boosted by a busy ski and snowboarding season.
“We’re optimistic heading into winter,” Taylor Caswell, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs, said in a release.
Caswell said the ski season will play a major part, but other factors will also be in play this year.
“We know the outdoor recreation assets in New Hampshire like our ski resorts and winter trail networks are among the largest drivers of our state’s economy,” Caswell said. “They bring tourists to spend a weekend, but also increasingly more new residents seeking to restore their work/life balance.”
In an effort to boost tourism this season, officials are launching an advertising campaign targeting what they label distance-drive markets — visitors within 600 miles of the state willing to drive rather than fly for a vacation or weekend getaway.
Officials are also hopeful that Canadian residents can continue to cross the border for non-essential travel despite the surge in COVID cases brought on by the arrival of the omicron variant.
“As we enter a second winter season amid an ongoing pandemic, we continue education efforts around preparing for your trip before you leave home, and about the importance of being kind and understanding to each other,” said New Hampshire Travel and Tourism Director Lori Harnois. “Both are elements of our Granite State Promise and Leave No Trace initiatives that promote sustainable tourism.”
The winter ad campaign will highlight winter sports, shopping, dining, and lodging in the state. It will also target spots for Canadians within driving distance.
Despite all the challenges of the pandemic, Caswell told the Manchester Ink that tourism last winter was down only 14.9 percent. With vaccine rates among the highest in the country, he expects a big rebound this year.
“Tourism is a critical part of New Hampshire’s economy,” Caswell said. “It creates jobs, generates income, and helps attract new residents to New Hampshire as a great place to live and work. Everyone in the industry should be proud of the job they’ve done to not only help the tourism industry survive but also thrive.”