BOSTON Several north of Boston communities and attractions are getting a piece of $4 million in grant funding from the state to promote travel and tourism.
The grants from the state’s Travel and Tourism Recovery program will be distributed to 80 communities to help foot the bill for local marketing campaigns and tourism recovery programs aimed at luring more visitors to the Bay State.
Locally, several communities — including Salem, Beverly, Peabody, Gloucester and Newburyport — are slated to get a share of the latest grant disbursements.
Salem’s Office of Tourism and Cultural Affairs is slated to get $49,000 for a mixed media marketing campaign using digital and radio advertising to increase domestic travel to the city this summer.
The House of the Seven Gables, a popular tourist destination in Salem, is getting $30,000 from the grant program for advertising and updates to its website.
The Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce is getting $20,000 for a marketing campaign aimed at revitalizing small businesses and expanding tourism.
In Gloucester, the LuminArtz will be getting a $20,000 grant for a new program highlighting the role of local women in shaping Gloucester’s past and future. The new program will use light projections and sound to tell local women’s stories and to “illuminate outdoor spaces” throughout the city, according to state officials.
Peabody Main Streets, Inc. is getting $45,000 for a new marketing campaign that highlights the city’s ‘Most Playful City USA’ designation to encourage visitors.
Meanwhile, the Essex National Heritage Commission will receive $37,000 to expand the social media and web presence of the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway through new content development.
Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy said the grant money targets resources to key tourism sectors that were hit especially hard by the pandemic.
“These funds, in addition to the Main Streets investments proposed in the FORWARD bill, will foster the resurgence of tourism and local economic activity across the Commonwealth,” he said in a statement.
Nancy Gardella, executive director of the North of Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the funding will help promote the region which is still struggling to recover from devastating impacts of the pandemic on travel and tourism.
The bureau, which operates a dozen visitor centers in the region, is getting $37,500 from the grant program for marketing and advertising campaigns aimed at attracting more domestic and international travelers.
Gardella said the grant funding shows that the Baker administration recognizes “how important tourism is to the state’s overall economic recovery.”
While leisure tourism has picked up in recent months, hotels and other attractions are still suffering from a lack of guided tours and international travel, she said.
“Those segments are continuing to struggle,” Gardella said. “When you talk to hoteliers in Peabody or Danvers they’re desperately trying to put heads in beds.”
Tourism is the third-largest industry in Massachusetts, generating more than $1.2 billion in state and local taxes and another $19.5 billion in travel-related expenses prior to the pandemic, according to the state Office of Travel and Tourism.
“Our tourism and hospitality industries are key drivers of economic activity in the Commonwealth and this program provides targeted support for initiatives that accelerate these industries’ progress toward recovery,”Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement. “Recognizing the pandemic’s impact on these industries, we are excited to continue our support through this important grant program.”
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org