BVB Launches 'Tourism Matters' Social Media Campaign

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Berkshire Visitors Bureau is urging Berkshire residents to participate in a social media 'Tourism Matters' campaign on Monday.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Visitors Bureau President Lauri Klefos' whole career starting with her first job as a waitress has been based on the tourism industry. 

That's why tourism matters to her and now she wants to know why it is important to everybody else.

On Tuesday, the BVB is launching a campaign to help spread the message about the important of tourism. It is asking residents to change their Facebook and other social media profile pictures to a "tourism matters" logo from the website and write a personal reason why. 
"We're looking for people to make a statement and say tourism is important here in the Berkshires and this is why," Klefos said. 
The campaign is in line with the national travel and tourism week. The local effort is particularly timely because the Legislature is currently debating a state budget with significant cuts to tourism. Kelfos said the cuts could reduce the BVB's ability to market the county in major media markets like New York City or Boston to drive up spending locally.
Klefos says tourists spend some $400 million in the Berkshires every year, which leads to $30.7 million in state and local tax receipts. Nearly 4,000 people are employed directly because of tourism and there is a multiplying effect in supporting businesses that serve attractions. 
"This is the second largest industry out here and the economy out here doesn't survive without a vibrant tourism industry," Klefos said. 
For Klefos it is important for her livelihood. As it is for those who are employed to help service tourist. 
"It has been a career for me. I had my first job waiting tables when I was 16 and I never would have thought this was where I'd end up but here I am. It's been a great job and that's what I am going to tell my connections," Klefos said. 
The organization is hoping to see the red profile pictures fill Facebook pages to get the point across
"It is important to live here. It is important to people who come here and love to visit us year after year," she said.
BVB has turned to a social media presence, which has become a focus for the organization in recent years. In another campaign, the organization has been asking those who are promoting events to use the hash tag #InTheBerkshires on social media. That links the local promotion efforts with the promotion for the entire county. 
"We've been really pushing social media as a way to get the word out and we've been doing it successfully," Klefos said. 
Klefos said the various promotional efforts — from social media to more traditional advertising — had led to about 4 percent increase in spending each year. The amount of traditional advertising, such as signs posted on Boston's MBTA, could be scaled back. 
Typically, the BVB gets some $400,000 for marketing from the state. In Gov. Charlie Baker's budget, that number could be down to as low as $10,000. This year, the organization received $208,000 after two series of budget cuts dwindled its budget. The House budget offers more than the governor's, but still cuts tourism programs by $15 million for fiscal 2016.
Klefos said the organization at one point was getting more than a half million from the state for those efforts. She said she hopes the tourism matters campaign will not only emphasis the point to residents but also reach legislators who could restore some of the cuts Baker proposed.

Tags: cultural economy,   tourism,   

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Pittsfield Chooses Tyer And Mazzeo For Mayoral Election

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Voters casting ballots at Tuesday's preliminary election chose mayoral candidates Linda Tyer and Melissa Mazzeo to face off for the general election in November.
They also thinned out the herd in two ward races to place the names of Jonathan Lothrop and Patrick Kavey on the ballot for Ward 5 and candidates Joseph Nichols and Dina Guiel Lampiasi for Ward 6.
On the mayoral front, Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo received the most votes out of the four candidates on the ballot with an unofficial count of 2,860 votes. Incumbent Mayor Linda Tyer received 2,571 votes.  
The two mayor candidates were favorites in the race, and performed well above Rusty Anchor owner Scott Graves and retired Pittsfield Police Officer Karen Kalinowsky. Graves took 343 votes while Kalinowsky took 281 votes.
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