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PLYMOUTH 400: Anniversaries inspire economic gain

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Plymouth 400

Anniversaries Inspire Economic Gain
Old Colony Memorial
By Plymouth 400, Inc.
The 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower and the founding of Plymouth Colony will be an event of national and international significance. We saw it happen in Jamestown; 1.2 million visitors participated in Jamestown 400’s Signature Events commemorating the 400th anniversary of Jamestown Settlement in 2007. The media exposure and editorial coverage of Jamestown’s 400th generated more than 12 billion media impressions promoting Jamestown as a tourism destination, and institutions in Virginia’s Historic Triangle saw their attendance increase by 600,000 during the commemorative period alone.
In an article for titled “Anniversaries Inspire Travel”, Jill Schenshul notes that anniversaries like Plymouth’s 400th are rare opportunities which destinations can capitalize upon to increase their visibility and promote themselves as a destination worth traveling to. Anniversaries provide a sense of history, “But most of all, they provide a deadline,” Schenshul writes. “Unlike annual events in a destination, a major milestone anniversary—measured in decades or centuries—is a rare opportunity. In the United States, a 450th anniversary is scarcer than fountains of youth.”
The 450th anniversary to which Schenshul refers, of course, is St. Augustine, Florida, which is the oldest European settlement in America and will commemorate its 450th this year. According to the article, “St. Augustine has spent $3.6 million since 2009 renovating historic buildings, creating new exhibitions, organizing events, and designing specially branded promotions” in preparation for the 450th, which will be commemorated this September.
Plymouth is planning a commemoration that will not only elevate Southeastern Massachusetts as a tourism destination and highlight the rich history of this region, but also to honor America’s story of exploration, innovation, self-governance, religious freedom, immigration, and thanksgiving; legacies sparked by the historic events that happened here 400 years ago and that continue today as cornerstones of our nation. Our mission is to produce a commemoration that is historically accurate, culturally inclusive, and brand enhancing, and to leave behind a positive legacy for those that follow.
Unlike some events, anniversaries are imminent. They will happen without delay and without doubt. It is up to the city itself to ensure that it is “ready for their close-up”, as Schenshul writes. It is imperative that destinations prepare for the impending influx of eager visitors who will spend without burdening municipal resources. Plymouth 400 is working closely with the Town of Plymouth, the State of Massachusetts, and the Federal Government to make necessary changes in transportation, infrastructure, and more so that when an estimated 6 million visitors travel to the Town of Plymouth in 2020 (an estimation based upon the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and Plymouth County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s statistics), we are well-equipped to meet their needs.
Plymouth 400 has been working on plans for this commemoration for years now, and it’s time for the rest of Plymouth County and the State of Massachusetts to begin preparations as well. By hosting the Massachusetts 400 Forum, at which representatives from other historic brands in Massachusetts turning 400 (namely Boston, Salem, and Quincy) and members of state agencies and tourism entities both here and abroad began to look at the bigger picture; Massachusetts has several major historic brands turning 400 over the next fifteen years, and it’s time to put a comprehensive plan together so that we may ride this “400 Wave” through Boston’s 400th in 2030.
About Plymouth 400, Inc.
Plymouth 400, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization in Plymouth, Massachusetts formed to lead the planning and execution of programs and events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony in 2020. The Plymouth 400 Anniversary will highlight the cultural contributions and American traditions that began with the interaction of the Wampanoag and English peoples, a story that significantly shaped the building of America.

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