‘Plan Big:’ Seacoast tourism ready to heed Sununu’s summer advice
With COVID-19 vaccinations on the rise and the number of new cases falling Gov. Chris Sununu is optimistic about the prospects for a good summer for travel and tourism.
"As we continue to vaccinate folks, we get closer and have more ability to do everything from ease up restrictions and really hopefully put COVID in the rearview mirror sometime in the near future," Sununu said at his weekly coronavirus briefing on March 18. "We've always said you should plan for a good summer. And we're still very much on track for that."
Sununu's advice: "I keep saying plan big."
Valerie Rochon, president of the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth shares the governor's enthusiasm for a strong summer season.
"I've been saying for more than a month I believe that Portsmouth and the Seacoast area will see at tsunami of visitors coming in for number of different reasons" Rochon told Seacoast Current, including pent up demand and increased outdoor dining capacity.
"And it's Portsmouth for crying out loud! People love coming to Portsmouth," Rochon said.
She said that the Seacoast tends to attract more daytrippers rather than overnight visitors, a trend that has already started with many visitors to downtown Portsmouth over the weekend.
"It was gorgeous, people were walking around, sidewalk cafe permits came out at the beginning of March, the city bought ten new picnic tables and placed them around downtown, people are grabbing to-go's and sitting at the picnic tables," Rochon said.
She said Portsmouth managed to keep its vibe in 2020 with just over 30 restaurants offering outdoor dining on streets and sidewalks. This summer 39 restaurants are licensed to be outside.
People will travel again this summer but lingering concerns over coronavirus may keep them away from cities like New York or Las Vegas and instead places that are a bit smaller and less crowded.
"Portsmouth is perfectly positioned for all of that," Rochon said.
For someone who didn't venture out during the summer of 2020 the biggest change will be social distancing with hand washing, keeping a distance of six feet and wearing a mask all encouraged even with vaccinations, according to Rochon.
"We are hoping that people will come and respect and wear masks and respect others space. We're outside, we're on the water, we're the perfect place to come if you need to get out, you want to go to a fabulous place and you don't want to be overcrowded," Rochon said.