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Discover Central MA Announces Smile City Passport, a New Mobile Marketing Program Aimed at Reigniting Tourism Economy

·4-min read

Regional Tourism Bureau awarded $100,000 tourism recovery grant to launch cultural program.

Smile City Passport program to launch June 2021, amplified through comprehensive out-of-home, digital, and ambassador marketing campaign.

Discover Central MA today announced a new mobile-optimized cultural program, The Smile City Passport, to entice out-of-state visitors to the region and kickstart the tourism economy in Worcester and throughout Central Massachusetts. Slated to launch in June, the Smile City Passport builds on the success of the My Local MA campaign launched during the pandemic by the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT).

Worcester is the birthplace of the iconic smiley face created in 1963 by Harvey Ball, a graphic artist who designed it for a local insurance company's campaign focused on friendship. Ball’s smiley face design took on a life of its own and is now recognized around the nation. With its bright, friendly smile, it is the perfect way to welcome visitors to Worcester and the region.

The Smile City Passport will be made available for free on the Discover Central MA website, and will encourage visitors to explore Worcester and beyond through enticing discounts on experiences and attractions throughout the region. The Passport engages visitors in real-time based on their current location and will lead them on attraction-filled adventures as they explore Central Mass. The cultural program offering will be the first of several curated experiences expected to launch throughout the summer, including cuisine trails, outdoor adventures, and more.

"Tourism is about more than families going on vacation, it represents a business sector that brings millions of dollars into the region," stated the organization’s executive director Monique Messier. "With summer fast approaching and vaccination rates increasing, the public is growing more confident about visiting our many attractions."

"From the newly opened Polar Park to the hundreds of businesses and destinations throughout the region, Central Massachusetts attractions bring smiles to thousands of faces each year," added Messier. "The MOTT recovery grant will bolster the Smile City Passport cultural program and help us attract more visitors to the region. And this is just the beginning, we plan to launch additional passport experiences throughout the year and into 2022."

To fund the Smile City Culture Passport, DCM applied for and received a $100,000 recovery grant from MOTT, the second largest awarded and one of 59 made by the state organization to tourism bureaus and other non-profits in the Commonwealth. In total, MOTT awarded nearly $1.6 million in recovery grants.

More than half of the recovery grant funds will be used to amplify the marketing efforts of the Smile City Passport program. To raise awareness of the new campaign, Discover Central MA has made a sizable investment in an ambassador program as well as television, print, online, and billboard advertising within and outside the region.

"This new TTR funding is a perfect complement to the Commonwealth’s ‘My Local MA’ campaign, which focuses on supporting local businesses throughout the pandemic," said MOTT Executive Director Matsudo Orrall. "With these grants, tourism groups and local municipalities can market their assets directly to prospective vacationers, targeting tourists in the New England region and the Mid-Atlantic states drive market."

To maximize the program’s success, Discover Central MA has partnered with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce to bolster the visibility and economic impact in the business community.

"Over the past year, businesses in the region have demonstrated their dedication to rigorous COVID-19 protocols to ensure that guests feel safe while visiting," said Timothy P. Murray, president and CEO of the Chamber. "When Discover Central MA approached us about a partnership we were immediately in. The Passport program will generate an influx of activity and revenue critical to the success of our business community, support the local economy and jobs, and share Worcester’s assets with others outside of the region."

The Passport, available from June through August, will be available to anyone for free from More details about the Smile City Culture Passport availability will be released as the organization nears the launch date.

About Discover Central MA

Discover Central MA’s mission is to market Central Massachusetts as a competitive destination for travel and tourism, attracting visitors, national conventions, meetings and events. As a membership-based, destination marketing organization, DCM advocates for the growth and health of the local tourism industry. Membership is available to hospitality and tourism businesses in Worcester and 34 surrounding communities in the Central Mass. region. To stay up to date, follow Discover Central MA on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, YouTube, TikTok and subscribe to the weekly newsletter.

About Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT)

MOTT’s mission is to promote Massachusetts as a leisure and business travel destination for domestic and international markets and to contribute to the growth of the Commonwealth’s economy.

About Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce is the largest Chamber in New England representing 2,100 members from all industries and of all sizes located in our service area of 35 cities and towns and other communities in Central Mass. and beyond.

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Monique Messier
Executive Director, Discover Central MA
(508) 753-1550
Discover Central MA
311 Main St Ste 200, Worcester, MA 01608