The State of Connecticut today named Mystic Seaport President Steve White the 2015 Tourism Leader of the Year. The award honors an individual who has made a singular contribution to the advancement of the tourism industry in Connecticut.
“One word captures the essence of this leader and that is vision,” said Arthur Diedrick, chairman of the state’s Tourism Advisory Board, who presented the award to White at the annual Connecticut Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Hartford. When faced with the challenges of the recent recession, “rather than retreat he advanced the organization with a truly revolutionary vision.”
White was recognized for the Museum’s accomplishments since he assumed the position of president in 2009, most notably the restoration and 2014 38th Voyage of the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, a project that garnered national and international attention. Over the course of two months, the National Historic Landmark vessel sailed from Connecticut to six ports in southern New England drawing tens of thousands of visitors and generating awareness of the importance of maritime heritage and promoting the state as a tourism destination to a worldwide audience.
White was also acknowledged for the leadership role he and Mystic Seaport play in regional collaboration efforts. A charter member of the Greater Mystic Visitors Bureau, the Museum participates in numerous successful partnerships and promotions with the local and regional business community, including a joint pass, the Mystic Pass (“Sea Everything”), with the Mystic Aquarium, local businesses, and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum that is a very successful tool to drive sales at multiple points.
Additionally, Mystic Seaport has just embarked on a $15 million capital investment in the construction of a new exhibition building and campus enhancements that will greatly add to the Museum’s ability to present and host world-quality exhibits that will draw additional visitation to the region year-round.
“I am honored to accept this award, but I do so on behalf of our talented, dedicated staff who present the Museum to the public in a most compelling and memorable manner, and for the greater Mystic community who strive to make our corner of the state one of the great destinations in New England,” said White.
The annual award is open to any leader of a travel- or tourism-related organization headquartered in Connecticut.
According to a recent study released by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, the tourism industry supports more than 118,000 jobs statewide—including 80,000 direct jobs— representing 5.3 percent of all employment in the state.