Granite State lacks clear icon, survey finds

By Kathy McCormack
Associated Press / May 7, 2010

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PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Unlike Maine lobsters and Vermont cows, New Hampshire doesn’t have a clear icon of its own, a survey of consumers and tourism representatives concluded in a survey released yesterday.

The results presented to about 200 participants at the 34th annual Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism show that the groups know the state for the White Mountains, foliage, and its authentic New England feel. But the survey also showed the participants generally knew more about neighboring Maine and Vermont.

In spite of that, tourism is one of the state’s largest industries. Direct spending by visitors to New Hampshire last year reached $4.2 billion, and the visitors paid $136.4 million in meals and rooms taxes, according to figures released by the state. The survey showed no one clear image, such as Mount Washington or phrase — even “Live Free or Die’’ — stood out with consumers and tourism representatives as capturing the spirit of New Hampshire.

“Nothing really resonated well or shone through,’’ said Gregg Dunn of YPartnership, a Florida marketing group that conducted the survey for the state. He said more than 1,100 consumers in the Northeast and more than 450 tourism and travel officials in New Hampshire were surveyed.

Alice DeSouza, director of the state Division of Travel and Tourism, said the results were complex and that officials would be studying them further as they brainstorm about marketing a New Hampshire brand.

The survey showed that physical activities such as hiking, skiing, and camping were most popular. Participants recognized that the state was known for its tax-free shopping, but not as well known for its restaurants, arts community, and golf courses.

Overall, consumers considered New Hampshire a great place to unwind and relax, and a great place for a family vacation.

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