Lighthouses once guided ships, now bring in the tourists

NEW LONDON -- Lighthouses are a steady economic driver for tourism all over the New England coast.

As the summer season nears, they are shedding more light on the lighthouse industry. Monday and Tuesday lighthouse owners, preservationists, and enthusiasts are meeting at the Long Island Sound Lighthouse Conference.

"This isn't just a passion, it's a way of life," said Ed Cubanski, a former US Coast Guard Captain and now the president of the New London Maritime Society who is sponsoring the conference.

Cubanski stressed that the history and significance of lighthouses is a main draw for tourists to visit.

"Tourism is our number one contributor to our success and we want to educate not just tourists from the older generation we want the younger generation as well," he said.

During the two-day conference, folks will be learning the best practices for planning for the summer season and the cultural and historical aspects of the industry.

"In the last 15 years things have dramatically changed in the lighthouse world because people are just more aware of them," said Pam Setchell, President of the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society. "When you're planning your summer, lighthouses should definitely be included."