AP NEWS

Promoters want to make Milford a tourist destination

December 25, 2018

MILFORD — City leaders have their eyes set on making Milford more of a destination spot for travelers.

Much of the push comes from Julie Nash, Milford’s Economic and Community Development director, who came on board about four years ago.

This fall, she had help: in October, city officials hosted tour operators from Ireland’s Aer Lingus, a group that included eight promoters from the airline including bloggers and travel writers along with a Bradley International Airport representative who traveled along the coast for promotions.

The group ate at Stonebridge Restaurant and attended a show at the Milford Arts Center.

The promotion of the region came, in part, because of continuing direct flights between Hartford and Dublin, Ireland, where Aer Lingus is located.

Nash worked with Sarah Washburn, a tourism manager with REX Development, which promotes tourism for the Greater New Haven area, as well as Milford’s Tourism Task Force, to bring the familiarization tour to Milford.

Paige Miglio, executive director of the art center, spoke to the group briefly.

“They couldn’t say enough good things” about Milford, she said, adding they appreciated Milford’s walkable downtown.

Washburn promotes the area internationally and regionally.

Milford, she said, is drawing international attention from Europeans, specifically nationals from Germany and England, who seem to appreciate outdoor activities like kayaking and American small town charm.

She also said there are a significant number of tourists from China, and potential students who visit Yale University and New York City.

There are plans for the city to have a tourism website this spring, Nash said, which will include maps, history, activities and travel deals.

Tapping into free social media has been an effective way to reach audiences, she said. She operates the town’s Youtube, Instagram and Facebook accounts, and said she previously called people for content. Now people call her, or tag the town’s social pages online, and are quick to share photos, memories and comments on their personal social media accounts.

The city’s Facebook followers have grown from 600 to 7,500.

There are three state districts for tourism, and the central region, which includes Milford, encompasses about 66 towns. She recently attended a meeting of the Central Region. Being new to the group, Nash said, she is interested to see how the state spends tourism dollars, and how the methods compare with her own.

Washburn said the tourism trade has changed in the past few years: the state, which has limited funds for tourism promotion,s only invests in digital advertisements now, while it previously paid for billboards and print advertisements, including those in Grand Central Station.

She remains a fan of trade shows and print ads, she said.

“It’s definitely the way the world is working now, to some degree, but those concrete print ads are really important for travel agents and the international market,” Washburn said.

AP RADIO
Update hourly