April 23, 2013

State capitalizing on 'Live Free and ...'

After a boost in tourism, New Hampshire plans to use the fill-in-the-blank motto in other areas.

The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. – The new tourism campaign New Hampshire rolled out a year ago is working so well, it may be expanded to economic development and other areas, a state official said Monday.

The "Live Free and ..." is a fill-in-the-blank play on "Live Free or Die," written by Revolutionary War Gen. John Stark to his wartime comrades in 1809 and adopted as the state motto in 1945. The state has used variations including "Live Free and Play," "Live Free and Explore" in its advertising, and attractions statewide have been putting their own twist on it.

Speaking at the annual Governor's Conference on Tourism, state Travel and Tourism Director Lori Harnois said the campaign has helped boost tourism spending, which increased to $4.4 billion in the last fiscal year. And Jeff Rose, commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development, said he plans to use a similar approach to attract new businesses.

"We're getting ready to try leverage that even beyond travel and tourism and promote all the special things we have," he said.

The department Rose oversees includes four divisions: travel and tourism; economic development; forest and lands; and parks and recreation. While the "Live Free and ..." campaign began in travel and tourism, he sees opportunity for the other three divisions to use it as well.

"It's rolling those four distinct divisions together under one roof that really provides the underpinning for the quality of life we enjoy here in New Hampshire," he said.

For now, Harnois said she is thrilled that the state's tourist industry has embraced the campaign. She showed the audience a video illustrating how various businesses and organizations have spent the last year promoting themselves by urging visitors to "Live Free and Shop" or "Live Free and Ski."

Gov. Maggie Hassan, who included more money for travel and tourism promotion in her proposed budget, offered similar praise.

"Live Free and Visit," she said. "That's what I'm confidant more and more people and families will do when they see our new brand and message because it wonderfully highlights what makes New Hampshire so very special."

The Institute for New Hampshire Studies at Plymouth State University estimates that the state saw 34.2 million visitors in fiscal year 2012, a slight increase from 2011.


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