Scenic Byway Campaign Aims to Discover Hidden Gems
Scenic roads are a staple of western Massachusetts, and a new marketing campaign is trying to make sure people know what that part of the state has to offer.
Rae Francoeur is the project manager for New Arts Collaborative, a branding and marketing company tasked with making the Western Massachusetts Scenic Byways a tourist attraction. The recently kicked-off marketing campaign was a collaborative effort of more than 50 people from the state’s departments of Transportation, Conservation and Recreation, and Tourism as well as regional planning committees.
“It’s a spiritual thing, it’s a wonderful thing for people to go back to the roads and join with their families and loved ones and get back to the basics," said Francoeur.
Representing one of those organizations, Nat Karns of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission says the byways project initially started in 1993 under the National Scenic Byways Program. He says the effort to make the seven individual byways of western Massachusetts into one attraction started five years ago with the hope of increasing tourism.
“Shop, eat, sleep, visit, spend money, and in directly that employs people and gives small business people more profits," said Karns.
Karns says the collaborative team had about $1 million in funding from the federal government and the state DOT for marketing. The western byways feature nature, arts, and recreation opportunities along areas like Mount Greylock, Jacob’s Ladder, and the Mohawk Trail. Francoeur says logos were designed for each of the seven trails through surveys and conversations with local residents to make sure each route held on to its distinct history and culture, like Route 122.
“They really valued the mills so their byway logo became a mill building," said Francoeur.
A major part of the marketing campaign involves a new website loaded with interactive maps, photos, and resources for enjoying the byways. Site designer Alex Turnwall says this type of site allows users to virtually step foot inside the region.
“By kind of being more interactive and a storytelling website, people spend a little more time getting to know what the region has to offer," said Turnwall.
Clicking on each tab shoots users to information on each roadway highlighting its heritage, activities, and attractions that Turnwall says many tourists overlook.
“We focused on getting people from Albany, New York, Boston, and Hartford, Connecticut who might come to the region before but kind of only visited the large attractions," he said. "So we’re kind of hoping to show people that the region has a bunch of hidden gems.”
Francoeur says the moving website is a symbol of the area’s ever-changing seasons and nature’s integration and influence into its regional lifestyles.
“I wanted it to have energy because you really pick up on that when you’re out there," she said. "There is so much to discover and there are distinct seasons. So things change all the time. So you just get a feeling of energy, change in a good way and art and nature working together. ”
Karns hopes the marketing campaign leads to an uptick in tourism especially for those along the Mohawk Trail.
“Given that a lot of those areas suffered pretty drastically from Hurricane Irene," he said. "Basically Route 2 was shut down for the entire fall season of 2011. So particularly for the businesses along that corridor they’re still in a financial recovery mode.”
The state's DOT says the seven routes total 275 miles of roadway.