By Mark Okrant, NH Travel Guru
Hidden among the glitzy television ads promoting visits to a popular attraction or destination is a more enduring impact. Your Guru realized this more than twenty years ago and has commemorated it with the following awful attempt at poetry:
People visit New Hampshire for an extended stay;
Then return here to live, forever and a day.
They create new lives within this get-away;
It’s so great how tourism continues to pay.
There is something autobiographical about this pathetical little verse. During the early 1950s, my parents, Reuben and Ethyle, purchased the first automobile they would own as a couple. It wasn’t long before wanderlust brought them with their two sons to visit the Old Man of the Mountain, Mount Cranmore, Lost River, Benson’s Wild Animal Farm, and several other roadside attractions. Those memories formed as a pre-teen remain to this day.
More to the point, when I was searching for a faculty position two decades later, I recalled those wonderful times spent vacationing here in New Hampshire. One day, during a lunchtime conversation with a colleague at South Dakota State University, I posed a question: “Where would you teach if you could be hired by any college in the country?” His response was that he would teach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the top geography programs in the country (Note: my colleague was hired by UW-Madison a year later). When queried about my first choice, I replied, “Plymouth State College in New Hampshire.”
My colleague was baffled, as he had never heard of the small school nestled between the White Mountains and Lake Winnipesaukee (Note: I was hired by Plymouth State a year later).
I posit that the scenario I’ve just painted is not all that unusual. Tourism research is filled with anecdotal evidence that a majority of people travel to childhood vacation spots throughout their lives. The question is, why should it stop there?
My response is that early vacation spots often become much more. A recent article by L.M. Hart in the Palm Springs Life magazine even labels this phenomenon. Hart calls it “transformational tourism,” when people come to play then decide to stay. According to the article, numerous destinations use improvements in their tourism services and infrastructure to attract people who will contribute to the economic welfare of their area. A young workforce drives new development.
The result is growth of new businesses and technological advances. Recent college graduates seek out these attractive destinations and take nearby jobs that lead to demographic change and economic development locally. According to Scott White, President and CEO of the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, “Youth bring energy, creativity, and a demand for new experiences, restaurants, products, and services that benefit everyone.”
I know that I would not have enjoyed my wonderful professional and family life here in the Granite State were it not for a wonderful New Hampshire vacation sixty years ago. Moreover, I can safely deduce that many of you are reading IndepthNH.org because of a related series of circumstances.
After forty years as an educator, researcher, and consultant, Mark Okrant joins IndepthNH.org to offer concise, informative insight into New Hampshire’s travel and tourism industry as a business, while showcasing the people and places you want to know. This guy’s really been around. And, he’s funny, too.
For more about Mark’s compelling tourism-based murder mystery series, visit www.markokrant.com.
For information on current things to do in New Hampshire, go to: http://www.visitnh.gov/what-to-do/event-calendar.aspx