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Tourism is New Hampshire’s second-largest industry–if you combine the state’s smart manufacturing and high technology sectors (SMHT). It’s also a clear point of intersection between government and industry, with the state maintaining a number of parks, campgrounds, and historical sites, and nearby businesses in turn catering to visitors’ needs. Given this close relationship, the state provides funding to market New Hampshire to potential tourists. Some of the heaviest marketing efforts are concentrated in Boston, Philadelphia and New York City. Canadian tourists, especially Quebeçois, also make up a sizable number of New Hampshire’s visitors. From the business perspective, “tourism” is a broad term. It encompasses hotels, resorts, restaurants, retail, and arts and entertainment, among other things. So while statewide reports may indicate overall restaurant or retail sales are up or down, the story might be very different in New Hampshire’s main tourism communities. For these places, weather, gas prices, currency exchange rates, and whether they draw visitors for outdoor activities, site-seeing, or shopping could all be factors.Summary provided by StateImpact NH

Revived Winnepesaukee 'Shakedown Cruise' Kicks Off Summer Tourism Season

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The M/S Mount Washington is out of storage and ready for another season of tours on Lake Winnipesaukee.

It used to be tradition for the boat to make something of a warm-up journey before taking on passengers: it was called the Shakedown Cruise.

This year, at the request of Governor Chris Sununu, that tradition is back.

[Editor’s note: we highly recommend listening to this story.]

Years ago, Shakedown Cruise was an unofficial start to the season. It was a chance to field test the ship after its winter hibernation and make sure it was in good condition before taking on paying passengers.

“The original engines that were in here were put in in 1946, and so by the 1970s and 80s, the engines were getting older and older, and older, and they wanted to check those engines out,” explains Jim Morash, one of the Mount Washington’s captains.

Often with just the crew and perhaps some dignitaries on board, the boat would head out for a quick work out: the ship would do figure eights, stop and start, and check in on its ports.

In 2010, the Mount got new power in the form of Caterpillar-brand engines. They’re reliable--a little too reliable to require an annual Shakedown Cruise.

And so, the tradition faded out.

This year, though, Captain Paul Smith says they got a special request to bring it back in a slightly different form.

Credit Todd Bookman/NHPR
Captain Jim Morash, chief operating officer of Mt. Washington Cruises, inspecting the seas.

“We have to give all the credit to you for sort of bringing back this tradition of the shakedown cruise,” says Smith to the highest ranking official on board today, Governor Chris Sununu.

“Well, being a good politician, I will take all the credit,” replies Sununu.  

Sununu says a revived Shakedown Cruise is the perfect way to formally kick off the summer tourism season. Officials and industry leaders were happy to climb aboard.

“I always thought it was just a great way to come up and talk to people and a lot of elected officials at the time would come. Again, the idea was, let’s put some meat on the bone, bring it back, bring a lot of the Chambers together, bring Travel and Tourism, bring Parks, so everyone is taking off on the same page, not in terms of just what we have to offer, but how are we going to sell it to the rest of New England,” says Sununu.

Tourism is one of the state’s largest industries, with more than 3.4 million visitors expected this summer. They’re forecast to generate nearly $2 billion for the state’s economy.

That is, if it doesn’t rain too much.

“There is a small squall approaching,” says a Captain’s voice over the ship’s intercom. “So it may be a good time to go inside and enjoy some coffee and danish.”

Luckily, the M/S Mount Washington has plenty of indoor seating.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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