Toronto-Vermont on Porter: New destination means more than just convenience
A belated thanks to the U.S. Consul General in Toronto, Kevin Johnson, for hosting a reception last week for Vermont tourism and Porter Airlines.
Porter flew its first-ever Toronto to Burlington (a delightful city, by the way) flight last week, filled with dignitaries and business people and such. Its part of Porter's ever-increasing dispersal of planes out of the Toronto Island Airport, with flights now headed to Halifax, Myrtle Beach, northern Ontario, New York, Montreal, Chicago, Ottawa, Boston and more.
I've attended a few tourism events as travel editor, and I'm often struck by just how critical flights are. I mean, you could have the greatest rum punch in the world being served on the planet's most beautiful beach in the Caribbean, but it don't matter unless you can get butts in seats on airplanes; preferably on direct flights.
"This new, direct connection strengthens the economic links" between Toronto and Ontario and Burlington and Vermont, Porter president Robert Deluce told those gathered at Johnson's Forest Hill residence.
"This isn't just about flying in to Vermont to ski on the weekend," Johnson said, citing Vermont's forests and high-tech industry and other shared interests.
For us in Toronto, it's a nice way to get to the heart of New England faster than driving through Montreal or upstate New York. Much less hazardous and nerve-wracking, too.
But the flight also, as Deluce and Johnson mentioned, means easier commercial connections between Burlington and Toronto and between Vermont and Ontario and all of Canada. As much as we focus on Asia these days, Johnson pointed out the U.S. is still Canada's key market.
Lawrence Miller, Vermont's secretary of commerce, noted that Canada is his state's largest trading partner; with exports to Canada equalling as much as the next eight countries combined. He also said 20,000 jobs in Vermont are due to trade with Canada.
Tourism is the biggest industry in Vermont, so the extra flights - and having Vermont more in the public spotlight - is a big deal. Skiers in Toronto might be salivating at the idea of quick access to Killington and Sugarbush and Stowe's ski hills. But Megan Smith, Vermont's tourism commissioner, said it goes both ways (as do the flights, come to think of it).
"We hope you'll do some marketing on our end," she said, "because those of us who live there love Toronto."
ARKANSAS ALSO ON THE HUNT FOR TOURISTS
You don't hear much about Arkansas. I know it's Bill Clinton's former stomping grounds, and I love the scenery in True Grit. But that's about all I can tell you about the state.
I must not be alone, as they recently opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville and are planning a big tourism push across the southern U.S. It's apparently a $300,000 one-time advertising buy will pitch Arkansas as a destination for arts and culture, while still promoting the state as a place for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.
"We've been The Natural State for 25 years now," said Joe David Rice, Arkansas ' tourism director, referring to the state slogan. "We still think we're The Natural State, but we think we ought to be a natural for arts and entertainment, too."
The museum was built by Wal-Mar heir Alice Walton and the architect is the highly renowned Moshe Safdie, and it looks like a stunner.