Stephen Coan on Science, Whales and Tourism at the Mystic Aquarium

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CT Examiner’s Cate Hewitt and Gregory Stroud arrived at Mystic Aquarium on Monday afternoon to interview Stephen Coan, the long-time head of what has become Connecticut’s largest tourist attraction.  The aquarium is a genuine marine biology research institution — with a strong faculty connection to UConn and a significant staff of in-residence and affiliated scientists — that also draws crowds and ticket sales with its crowd-pleasing focus on marine mammals including beluga whales, penguins and sea lions. At a time when climate change and melting glaciers are a concern for much of the public, Mystic Aquarium’s Arctic Coast habitat, with

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Tourism Grants Announced for Eastern Connecticut

The Eastern Regional Tourism District announced last week that it would distribute a total of $152,267 in grant money to nine partnerships that are developing marketing campaigns to promote local tourism.  The selected campaigns include the Airline Trail, the Thames River Heritage Park, the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, and efforts to promote tourism through partnerships in Voluntown, Windham, New London, Norwich and Old Lyme.  Two other organizations, Olde Mistick Village and the Last Green Valley, each received $25,000 in October, increasing the total amount of grant money distributed to $202,267. To fund the grants, the district set aside $180,000

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Tourism Grant Program Accepting Proposals Through October 31

The Eastern Regional Tourism District is offering grants of up to $25,000 to help regions expand their marketing budget and draw in more tourists.  If a campaign is chosen, the district will contribute double the funds raised by the campaign for up to $5,000. They will then match up to $15,000 of additional funds raised, with a cap of $25,000.  The district has so far awarded two grants of $25,000 each to the campaigns Think Mystic and Wide Open.  Chris Regan, manager at Olde Mistick Village and chairman of the marketing committee, said that the district wanted to support programs

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Partnership with State Government Keeps Mystic Aquarium Afloat

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MYSTIC — Gov. Ned Lamont and Mystic Aquarium President and CEO Dr. Stephen Coan today announced a $31.5 million public-private partnership that will eliminate the aquarium’s debt and allow it to continue functioning through the pandemic.  The package includes $10 million raised in private donations, $14.5 million in debt elimination and a $7 million long-term loan from the state for working capital. At a press conference at the aquarium, Coan said this partnership will enable the aquarium “not only to survive, but to thrive.” Tourism is an $18 billion industry in Connecticut, making up 7 or 8 percent of the

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As Federal Aid Expires and Businesses are Slow to Reopen, Officials Discuss Changes to the Paycheck Protection Program

With summer fast approaching, Connecticut’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry is still largely shuttered. But as businesses gradually reopen over the next month, increased costs, wary customers and rigid rules on federal aid may make the process more difficult for businesses that have already lost two or three months of revenue. Possible changes to the troubled federal Paycheck Protection Program may ease some of that burden for tourism-driven businesses, but they will still need to clear one additional hurdle after they are allowed to reopen: convincing customers that it’s safe to come out. Sen. Richard Blumenthal told industry stakeholders that he’s optimistic

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Tourism District Leaders Share Plans to Include Small Towns, Maximize Limited Funds

As the Eastern Regional Tourism District moves toward resolving a breach of contract dispute with the state regarding funding, the district will next need to determine what actually to do with the $400,000 or more that it will receive from the state government for marketing campaigns. “If we’re not effectively putting a positive effect on everybody’s bottom line in the region then we’re not doing our job,” said Chris Regan, who represents Stonington on the district board. “We have to look at how we can maximize that $400,000 to help everybody in our region, and that will help the state

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