Flanders

Massachusetts Has Mass Appeal

From being home to the first university in America to being the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, Massachusetts is home to a lot of “firsts.” Representatives from across the state were in Toronto last night (April 9) to also showcase the many first experiences travellers can have in the destination such as going on hot air balloon rides or witnessing close encounters with whales. 

Maria Speridakos, director of international public relations for the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, highlighted how each of the six regions in the state have their own distinct character and offer something unique to discover like the mysterious history of Salem, which draws in visitors for a month-long haunted happenings in October, or the surf and sun offering of Cape Cod with charming cottages and seafood shanties. 

“Boston is the capital of Massachusetts, a thriving metropolis with over 60 colleges and universities and with them thousands of students who keep the city youthful and vibrant. A byproduct of Boston education centre is a booming tech scene with a number of startups drawing comparisons to Silicone Valley: Facebook, Google, and many travel companies like Kayak and TripAdvisor have set up shop here. Boston meets the demand of students, tech billionaires and everyone in between,” she said. “And the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard offer the feelings of a luxury remote getaway just off the Massachusetts coast. Their downtowns combine quaint shingled villages with exceptional dining and shopping experiences.” 

With Air Canada, WestJet and Porter all servicing the destination, she pointed out that Canada remains its No. 1 international market, crediting the proximity to the destination.

Along with presentations, networking and some flavours of Massachusetts, the event also served as an opportunity for the trade to get to know Keiko Matsudo Orrall, the new executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism. 

“Canadians are our No. 1 international partner with nearly 700,000 people visiting on a yearly basis,” she told PressToday, adding she was 12 days into the new post. “Our goal is to encourage folks from around the world to come to Massachusetts and to stay and enjoy our sights. On our license plates in Massachusetts, it says ‘The Spirit of America’ and I really see that Massachusetts in the spirit of our entire country. It’s a great place to visit.”

Several notable anniversaries are underway in the state, including the 200th anniversary of the birth of author Herman Melville, who wrote the iconic novel Moby-Dick in Massachusetts. 2020 will celebrate Plymouth 400, marking 400 years since the Mayflower Voyage and the founding of Plymouth colony. On the culinary side, November will see the 25th annual Franklin County CiderDays festival with fall tours, cider makings, tastings and workshops. 

Get to know the partners 

Describing Williamstown as a one-stoplight town with a mere 4,000 residents, Victoria Saltzman, director of communications for The Clark Art Institute says it’s home to one of the biggest collections of Renoir. To mark the 100th anniversary of Renoir’s death, the museum will feature a daring exhibition exploring his unceasing interest in the human form, which will focus on his nudes. Meanwhile, this summer’s lineup for The Williamstown Theatre Festival will feature the likes of Uma Thurman.

“It’s a mecca for people who like art and culture,” she noted, adding that many poets were inspired by the area. 

David O’Donnell, senior manager of media relations for the Greater Boston CVB, highlighted how the Canadian market is vital to the city from both a fly and drive standpoint. There is a lot of development underway, including Encore Boston Harbor, which he dubbed as “so much more than a casino,” and the Time Out Market opening in May, featuring satellite restaurants by renowned chefs. While many know Boston for its history, he said visitors may not be familiar with its newer side, which has a thriving culinary and craft beer scene. For visitors looking for a more unique way to experience the city, he said they are also focusing on a neighbourhood campaign allowing travellers to dive in and explore different hubs of the city. 

Over at Johnny Appleseed Country, David Ginisi, marketing and communications manager for Visit North Central Massachusetts described the region as the quintessential destination to experience the countryside. He said agri-tourism is a big draw, along with sporting like cycling and skiing. As for local delights, he suggested visitors don’t leave without trying the homemade apple cider donuts or tasting their maple syrup to see if it lives up to the Canadian variety. For accommodation news, he said the boutique The Groton Inn is brand new following a fire. “There’s a lot to experience, and that’s the key word,” he said. 

Located 30 minutes from Boston, Ann Marie Casey, executive director of the North of Boston CVB said the area has seen a tremendous transformation. One example is Salisbury Beach, which features a new boardwalk and the Blue Ocean Music Hall for entertainment. Meanwhile, The Peabody Essex Museum is set for a new 40,000-sq-ft wing with 13 new galleries and exhibitions by September.  

As previously noted, Plymouth is preparing to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the colony, said Claire MacPherson, marketing communications manager, Destination Plymouth, where visitors can also touch a piece of Plymouth Rock. She said that Plymouth is a popular destination for international travellers, with visitors from 93 different countries recorded last year. In preparation for the Plymouth 400, several new developments are also underway. 

Pictured at the event (top photo) is Keiko Matsudo Orrall, Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism.

Pictured in the partner photo are: David Ginisi, Visit North Central Massachusetts; Victoria Saltzman, The Clark; Maria Speridakos, Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism; Hannah Choat, Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, represented in Canada by VoX International; Keiko Matsudo Orrall, Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism; Claire MacPherson, Destination Plymouth; Ann Marie Casey, North of Boston CVB; and David O’Donnell, Greater Boston CVB. 

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