Connecticut tourism was hot this summer

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COLCHESTER–Tourism in Connecticut was up 12 percent this summer over last year, and one of the biggest boons were the the nearly 40 vineyards on Connecticut’s wine trail.

Seventeen years ago, the 30 acres that now make up Priam Vineyards in Colchester were vacant. Now, it is among the largest vineyards in Connecticut.

“This year we’ve seen about 17 percent growth in our wine sales, on top of double-digit growth last year,” said Gloria Priam, general manager of Priam Vineyards.

Their success due in large part to the promotional budget of state’s tourism office.

“In many cases, spending $10-$15 million a year in advertising and marketing to support state tourism has really paid off,” said Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

Visitors to Connecticut attractions this summer also spent considerably more than last year.

“About $906 per party this summer, which is a 4 percent increase over the prior summer,” said Gov. Dan Malloy.

Occupancy rates at Connecticut hotels this summer outpaced the national average, with a 4-percent increase in occupancy over last year. Nationally, there was a one percent bump in occupancy rates nationwide. The revenue per available room also rose by nearly 8 percent in Connecticut, compared to 6 percent nationally.

Attractions in greater New Haven, Waterbury and southeastern Connecticut reaped the largest reward.

Priam profits afforded them an opportunity to bring in a new winemaker from Santa Barbara California.

“We are expanding our business and expanding our facilities for weddings and the corporate thence we will be doing even further,” said Priam.

State grants also allowed Priam vineyards the opportunity to be the first winery in New England to go solar.