The state brought in nearly $4.4 billion in visitor spending in 2015, according to the most recent stats from the Delaware State Tourism Office.
Delaware might be a small state, but when it comes to tourism it rakes in big bucks.
Visitor spending in the state rose 4.1 percent in 2015 to reach almost $4.4 billion, a new record high, according to the most recent stats from the Delaware State Tourism Office.
Delaware’s three tourism bureaus are in position to stimulate the economy this summer, a very important season, which unofficially launches Memorial Day weekend.
Here’s a breakdown of how each county plans to generate tourism dollars in the summer.
Southern Delaware Tourism
While tourism begins with the beaches in Sussex County, the area has more to offer visitors that just that, said Scott Thomas, executive director at Southern Delaware Tourism.
“We’ve noticed our restaurants and culinary scene here has become very popular, so much so we’ve trademarked it as the ‘Culinary Coast,'” Thomas said.
“You have places like Sports at the Beach: it’s a sports tourism attraction area. It entertains so many tournament teams, which are out of area. It gets back to the idea that the longer they have to travel, the longer they’ll stay here.”
Sussex saw $1.79 billion in tourism in 2015, according to the Delaware State Tourism Office.
Southern Delaware Tourism’s primary target audience are visitors within a four-hour driving radius, including DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.
“Our biggest market is Pennsylvania,” Thomas said. “We do everything [to lure visitors] – from working with travel journalists to creating publicity about the county, starting with our five-star beaches. We advertise in digital, print and TV to the markets I mentioned earlier. We also attend travel shows in Pittsburgh and DC.”
One of the most notable summer attractions for Sussex this year is the new Hudson Fields concert series, bringing national acts to Milton.
The series launches June 1 with the band Old Dominion. Other big names in the series include country star Cole Swindell and Firefly alum Fitz and the Tantrums.
Kent County Tourism
Kent County Tourism recently launched a new brand identity for Kent County. That brand is Delaware’s Quaint Villages: “At Your Own Pace."
“We will be using that branding in all marketing materials such as visitor guides, brochures, print/digital advertising and social media,” said executive director Wendie Vestfall. “In addition, we launched our new website in April, VisitDelawareVillages.com.”
Some of the top tourist attractions in Kent County include Firefly, Delaware State Fair and Dover International Speedway.
Kent County saw $537 million in tourism in 2015, according to the Delaware State Tourism Office.
“There are 45 million people within a 250 miles radius of Kent County that are potentially interested in visiting our area,” Vestfall said. “It’s our goal to make a bigger economic impact for the area by reaching as many of these people as possible. We will do that through this new targeted branding, website and advertising.”
New Castle County
The Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau, serving all of New Castle County, is already off to a strong start with ticket sales for its Brandywine Passport Program.
The program features 11 cool destinations for as little as $4.09 each.
GWCVB executive director Sarah Willoughby said many of the locations are NCC’s top attractions like Mt. Cuba Center, Nemours Estate, Winterthur and Rockwood Museum & Park, Brandywine River Museum of Art, Hagley Museum & Library and Delaware Art Museum.
Longwood Gardens is also included in the program, although it’s located in Pennsylvania.
NCC saw more than $2 billion in tourism in 2015, according to the Delaware State Tourism Office.
Willoughby said GWCVB is relying on ads to attract visitors.
“We launched a new tourism video and plans are to launch regional television and digital video spots in June through September,” she said.
“We do feel the television commercials will bring more awareness to New Castle County and our many attractions and festivals,” she said. “We do see out-of-state visitors at our events and festivals.”