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Posted by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Executive Director

Greater Merrimack Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau

Valley Adventures

Hospitality veteran Rick Lofria was appointed executive director of the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMVCVB) in April 2021.  We spoke to Rick recently about what Merrimack Valley has to offer visitors.

Tell us about your background and how you came to the Greater Merrimack Valley CVB? 

I served as a senior sales manager at the Boston Marriott at Burlington for nearly six years.  Before that, I worked in management at other Marriott properties, as well as at Embassy Suites, The Millennium Bostonian Hotel, Westin/Providence, and Hampton Inn & Suites. I started in the hotel industry over two decades ago working every position imaginable.

While at the Burlington Marriott, which has been a GMCVB member and partner for many years, I was invited to be on the CVB board, which eventually brought me to my present position.  I’ve spent the last twenty years working in the hospitality industry, and tourism factored into that in a big way.  I’ve worked with tourism leaders throughout Massachusetts and Southern New England and understand the direct economic impact tourism has on local economies.

Give our readers a quick overview of GMVCVB by the numbers. 

The Greater Merrimack Valley is just a half-hour drive to the north and west of Boston, comprised of 21 cities and towns, each with their own unique charms.

No matter what the season, the Merrimack Valley has a beauty all its own. The changing seasons add to the vibrancy of the region and with these changes come unmistakable attractions – skiing, biking, fishing, canoeing, white water rafting, strawberry picking, hayrides, and concerts under the stars. There is an undeniable spirit in the Greater Merrimack Valley – the same spirit that gave birth to our country.

Merrimack Valley has something for everyone  – whether you’re looking for comfortable and cozy, vibrant and active, or fun and educational. Whatever kind of getaway you’re looking for, adventure awaits you here!

 Merrimack Valley mill cities helped launch our nation’s industrial revolution, spawning vibrant immigrant and ethnic communities.  How do you promote this rich history and heritage?

We actively promote to our visitors the region’s distinct role in the Industrial Revolution, especially the City of Lowell, which was Incorporated in 1826 to serve as a mill town. Named after Francis Cabot Lowell, the city became known as the cradle of the American Industrial Revolution because of its textile mills and factories. Many of Lowell’s historic manufacturing sites were later preserved to create the Lowell National Historical Park.  

In the 1970s,  the city of Lowell welcomed an influx of Cambodian refugees who settled here and quickly became part of our community.  Today, Lowell has its own Cambodia Town and America’s second largest Cambodian-American population.

On the educational front, Lowell is also home to two institutions of higher education. UMass Lowell, part of the University of Massachusetts system, has three campuses in the city. And Middlesex Community College has campuses in Lowell and in the town of Bedford.

The pandemic has generated new partnerships across Massachusetts.  What are some of the collaborative initiatives you’re working on?

We are participating in MOTT’s ‘Let’s go Out’ Campaign,  to promote our area restaurants this summer, including indoor and outdoor dining.  We have a partnership with the North of Boston CVB  called ‘Lobsters and Liberty,’ which promotes North of Boston’s maritime and culinary assets alongside the rich history of the Greater Merrimack region.  Finally, we coordinate with the Plymouth County CVB and the Cape Cod Chamber/CVB to promote athletics and sports initiatives.

What are some of the top iconic destinations in Merrimack Valley that attract visitors year after year?  And what do you recommend this summer? 

Lexington and Concord are iconic destinations for visitors who love history, culture, cuisine and outdoor beauty, and Lowell has some popular annual events coming up this summer and fall, such as the Lowell Summer Music series, Kinetic Sculpture Road Race and Town and City Festival.

Readers can get up-to-date information on what Merrimack Valley has to offer this summer by visiting MerrimackValley.org or our Linked-In page.

Thanks Rick.