Researchers from Plymouth State University’s Institute for New Hampshire Studies, including PSU Professor Mark Okrant, Laurence Goss of Salem State University and Stephen Thurston of the NorthMark Group, have received a $150,000 contract to conduct research for the tourism division of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development. Okrant, director of the Institute for New Hampshire Studies, has studied tourism trends in New Hampshire for three decades and has received approximately $2 million in grants, awards and contracts for his research.
In over 100 studies for the state of New Hampshire, Okrant and his colleagues have been able to detect and describe patterns in tourism throughout the Granite State, including the increase in travelers from New York City, Philadelphia, Canada and other regions. Institute for New Hampshire Studies research has also revealed the value of spending state money on tourism marketing and promotion.
Tourism research is conducted in a variety of ways. Researchers distribute mail, phone and Web-based surveys; analyze data from federal and state agency information; study tourism patterns from other regions and interview owners and general managers of accommodations and attractions throughout the state. Okrant is also a member of the Travel and Tourism Research Association, the Tourism Research Information Network (TRINET) and the State and Provincial Research Group, which provide information on changes in tourism throughout the region, country and world.
Recent trends in New Hampshire tourism include a decline in day visits (in relation to overnight visits) and a consistent growth in the number of second homes in the state. Visitors to the state are also increasingly affluent and more interested in spending time at sites that celebrate the state’s natural and cultural heritage. The biggest shift in tourism though, according to Okrant, is the way people obtain information about the state and its attractions. As more people plan vacations by Internet, Web sites maintained by states, towns, communities, chambers of commerce and individual companies have become the most important tools for travelers to New Hampshire.
“People come to New Hampshire with shorter preparation times than ever before,” said Okrant. “Therefore, they need a responsive, instantaneous source of information. Increasingly, they want to be able to plan things for themselves. Materials provided by states, local areas, and individual properties need to help them to do their own planning.”
Okrant uses the information he gleans from researching trends like these to make recommendations to the state on how to best accommodate and provide information for tourists, both those who visit the state for a week or two and those who return each summer or winter to experience the great variety of recreational opportunities New Hampshire has to offer.
The Institute for New Hampshire Studies at Plymouth State University was founded in 1975 to advance knowledge about New Hampshire and its relationship to the New England region through ongoing education and research efforts. The Institute sponsors a minor in northern New England heritage studies at the University and has hosted numerous workshops and field schools in related topic areas. Institute projects and activities are components of a continuing effort to serve the state and New England region, in keeping with the mission of Plymouth State University. For more information about the Institute for New Hampshire Studies, visit www.plymouth.edu/inhs/index.html
Plymouth State University (PSU) is a regional comprehensive university offering a rich, student-focused learning environment for both undergraduate and graduate students. PSU offers 42 majors and 62 minors in programs that include education, business, humanities, arts, and natural and social sciences. The College of Graduate Studies offers coursework that promotes research, best practices and reflection in locations on- and off-campus as well as online. For non-traditional students, PSU’s Frost School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers working professionals opportunities to pursue an undergraduate degree by attending classes in the evenings, weekends and online. Located in a beautiful New England setting, Plymouth State University has been recognized as one of the “Best in the Northeast” by The Princeton Review.