Businesses can’t wait for peak tourism in Connecticut

MADISON --  After the weather Connecticut endured especially in March when winter would not quit, businesses near the beaches can’t wait for the summer to sizzle.

The Clam Castle, a fixture near Hammonasset Beach State Park and campground in Madison, has been in business for 60 years.

“We are seasonal business, so we do all our business in the spring, summer and early fall months,” said Dave Donohue, owner of the Clam Castle.

Roughly 60 percent of their business coming in June, July and August.

Across the street, the Hammonasset Package Store might soon be cracking a cold one to salute a new state law.

“Nobody has to pay to get on to the beach this year so that might make a big change in things,” said Dee Mulqueen, owner of the store.

Parking fees at state parks and beaches are now waived for anyone driving in a vehicle with Connecticut plates on it.

“It’ll be busier, I imagine,” said Mulqueen of the beach. “So, we are looking forward to it.”

Further east, in Niantic, near Rocky Neck State Park, the Lyme Tavern & Sports Bar, is finishing up outdoor patio improvements over the next couple of weeks.

Memorial Day it hits, but, then it’s just weekends after that until the kids get out of school,” said Steve Carpenteri, owner of the 48-year-old establishment.

“When they get out of school, every day is like a Saturday,” he added.

His restaurant business increases by roughly one-third during the summer season. He also owns the next door motel.

“Rocky Neck Inn and Suites does very well. A lot of people come down,” he said. “They stay here for a week or two weeks and most people rebook for the following year as soon as they leave.”

He said it’s booked to capacity all summer long.

All of this revenue is part of a nearly $15 billion annually tourism industry in Connecticut.

“We should be promoting it (tourism) more than we currently do,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy. “I’ve been trying to do that. We’ve increased our promotion of tourism in Connecticut, but we need to go the extra step.”