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Tourism group pushing to bring guests back to eastern CT

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(WTNH) — Both Harry’s Place, which has now become a drive-thru restaurant during the pandemic, and the Airline Trail draw a lot of people to the Colchester area. 

“The Airline Trail has such a tremendous reputation,” said Harry’s Place owner John Garet.

The Eastern Regional Tourism District is hoping many along the trail will join forces to promote the area and the state is looking to help. 

The partnership program is encouraging businesses, towns and attractions in eastern Connecticut to develop a marketing campaign. The state will then match the money to fund it.

“The first 5,000 that you raise is two for one,” said Chris Regan, Chairman of the District’s Marketing Committee which will choose which groups get the help. “So you get an additional 10,000 on top of your five. And then the next 15,000 is dollar for dollar. So the max you can get is $25,000.”

They cannot be individual businesses. There is $180,000 earmarked for the program. 

There have been many marketing campaigns in the Mystic area which have brought in the crowds like folks there Friday waiting for a Deviant Donut. But the Eastern Regional Tourism District has a total of 41 towns so the hope is some of the quieter areas will soon start to see the same types of crowds as well.

Regan says the Airline Trail which winds through a dozen towns from Portland to Thompson is a perfect example.

“That should be marketed because that’s 57 miles, and that’s huge,” said Regan. “For tourists to come here because that’s another activity they can do.”

”Anything that brings people to the area lets them know about something like that is going to benefit all businesses in the area,” said Garet.

Olde Mistick Village is planning to team up with other Mystic attractions to create their own campaign which could then be tied into the state’s marketing efforts to reach more people.

“Get their stay to be longer,” said Regan. “It could be you know instead of a two-day trip it could be a four-day trip.”

He hopes people take more time to explore more of eastern Connecticut.

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