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Posted by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Promoting the Cape & Islands
Bill DeSousa-Mauk is founder and principal of DeMa Public Relations, handling all aspects of public relations for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.  He has written travel stories for Boston Spirit Magazine, Global Traveler, Boston Herald, (Mediterranean travel news agency), Hyannis Life, Serendipity, Elegant Weddings, Metro Summer Fun Guide and Caribbean World, and regularly supplies content and photographs for numerous tourism publications in Massachusetts.  In 2014, Bill received MOTT’s Larry D. Meehan Award for Excellence in Tourism.

Bill, tell us about your professional background and how you came to handle tourism public relations for Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
In 1984 my clinical psychologist position lost its luster. My father introduced me to a banker friend and Northeast Savings in Hartford, CT hired me. I worked 17 years at the bank; 10 years operations and lending followed by seven years in community relations. After bank merger/personnel de-acquisition, a friend asked me to help with travel & tourism PR. For 10 years, I handed PR for about 30 New England lodging properties managing media/trade visits while growing my receptive tour company internationally until it was acquired by TOURCO in 2000. Freed from selling rooms the realization that PR and I were a good match coalesced. PR was challenging, creative, enjoyable and, over time, a lot of success meant you got noticed. Working and living on the Cape, I negotiated a PR contract with Cape Cod Chamber and, as Cape & Islands’ collaboration grew, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket were natural partners.

There are countless reasons to visit the Cape & Islands – how do you pare it all down to a two-minute elevator pitch when domestic and international media come calling?
Offering high-value, year round hospitality, nature, culinary, historic, arts, culture, recreational, spiritual, educational and shopping experiences, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are storehouses of natural and manmade wonders and resources. Their relatively small size, considerable diversity, easy accessibility and popularity with new and returning domestic and international visitors and fans keep the region vibrant, ever-changing and exciting. Each region offers a year round event calendar of cultural, educational, sports and inspirational events, seminars, performances and competitions. With more than 50 golf courses, 21,000 guestrooms, near 3,000 shopping venues, 770 miles of seacoast, significant percentages of land under conservation restrictions, 200 miles of cycling trails and nearly 100 museums, this tripartite region is a seasoned and welcoming trio of unforgettable places where no one enters or leaves unmoved.

Memorial Day to Labor Day is certainly the high season on the Cape & Islands for tourism. What’s coming up this summer to inspire visitors?
The 48th Figawi Race Weekend’s sailing regatta between Hyannis and Nantucket inspires events on both sides of Nantucket Sound Memorial Day Weekend. The 8th Annual Nantucket Book Festival (June 13-16) features 29 presenting/28 local authors inspiring, enriching and engaging readers this pre-summer weekend. In June, Patrick Dougherty’s Stickworks one-of-a-kind stick sculpture will be built and displayed for two years on Highfield Hall’s grounds. Martha’s Vineyard’s 17th African American Film Festival (August 5-10) has screened and promoted many outstanding and emerging Feature, Documentary and Short films produced by and starring African Americans from around the world.  Art On Two Wheels fills the Cultural Center of Cape Cod (September 20 – November 24) in South Yarmouth with an exhibit of David McGraw’s Harley-Davidson iconic motorcycles and motorcycle art collection, including some so rare that even Harley-Davidson does not own them.

The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are increasingly important to the Cape & Islands tourism industry. How do you get reporters and tour groups to help promote the off-season? 
Since 2000, the region has grown from Memorial-to-Labor Day visitor seasons with May-June and September-October visits popular. Whether climate change or natural phenomena cause regional climate shifts is grounds for conjecture. Occupancies remain at strong levels through September and even October. Bus tour arrivals remain steady, especially with seniors. Media visit request are no longer anchored by traditional summers and demand increases during our peak season, but only diminishes after Thanksgiving through March. We encourage new and returning travel media to visit late spring and autumn, and they welcome these changes. This year the region had its first media trips in November and mid-December with requests for trade FAMs in autumn and picking up the pace in April. Not certain what dynamic is evoking these changes but we like it!

Island hopping, whale watching, fresh seafood and water sports are valuable assets to the Cape & Islands.  How does the Cape & Islands develop its maritime economy while protecting the priceless environment for future generations?
The Blue Economy’s fostering of sustainable ocean resource use for economic growth, including jobs and healthy ecosystem, is a pressing initiative for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Chambers. Through providing initiatives for sustainable marine energy, fisheries, maritime transport, ocean and costal tourism, waste management, marine bio-technology and bio-prospecting, seawater desalinization and other Blue Economy pillars can transform this region into America’s first case study on harmlessly extracting maximums from surrounding waters. Responses to such questions are echoed throughout America’s coastal communities — the Blue Economy represents the highest and best alternatives to suppress eco-system damage while extracting maximum value from renewable resources. Cape Cod Chamber’s branding of the regional Blue Economy will be Expedition Blue with the goals of 1) supporting a vibrant maritime and technology economy; 2) demonstrating how a healthy environment builds healthy economies; and 3) developing a prepared and educated workforce.

Thank you Bill!