NEW MILFORD — The town launched its brand new tourism website last week, which promotes venues, local businesses and activities around town.
The website also provides a free advertisement opportunity for locals “to increase awareness of New Milford’s vibrant community and diverse opportunities,” according to a release form the mayor’s office.
Categories include pages titled Eat, Drink, Explore, Shop, Play and Stay, with local listings on each.
The tourism site, officially launched on Friday, differs from the town’s municipal website in both look and content. Mayor Pete Bass said that the town site will continue to be used as normal for all things related to local governance.
“We’ve seen some of neighbors sites that were more glossy; they were more appealing to someone that may not be from our area,” he said.
The homepage of the website boasts a verdant aerial photo of the town, with “New Milford” written in a cursive font, followed underneath by the words “In the hills. Beyond compare.”
An interactive map provides color-coded pins with the names of various types of destinations, from shopping and retail, to culture and recreation, to food and drink. After clicking on a pin, the user is provided with further information, a phone number and a website, when available. Users can also choose to “submit a place” to add their own business, venue or activity.
The new website launch follows several years-long efforts to make the town a more tourist-friendly spot. Instead of being a “gateway to Litchfield County,” New Milford wants to be a destination.
Tourism is not new to the town, but Bass wants to expand New Milford’s marketshare. From new and annual events and festivals to an extensive riverfront revitalization plan, the town aims to attract visitors and present new opportunities current residents.
The town is already host to summer-home residents from bigger cities like Manhattan, thanks in part to the draw of Candlewood Lake
“It’s been a part of New Milford for a very long time,” said Bass of the town’s tourism. “This website will be one of our tools in our toolkit to create that awareness, that brand awareness.”
The new website has been in the works for several years. Former Economic Development Director Karen Pollard, who left her Town Hall position in February, participated in its early stages, as well, said Bass.
“We were all working together to create more of a brand awareness for New Milford,” he added.
After a press release was sent out last Friday, the town plans to further publicize its new tourism website through the municipal website, on social media, other towns’ websites and in the mayor’s email signature.
Bass said they’ll do an analysis to see “how much traction” they get from these efforts before adding any further publicity campaigns.
He has not yet looked at website traffic data to see how the new website is being received, but said he will do so after at least a week has elapsed.
Anecdotally, he said the reception has been positive thus far, with businesses letting him know they’re grateful for the free advertising and nonprofits saying they were excited about the community calendar for events.
While the website certainly caters to visitors, Bass also said it will help residents keep track of what events are going on in town.