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Pitching MA Abroad
Senior International Trade Specialist Maryanne Burke covers the waterfront for the International Trade Administration when promoting Massachusetts to the global community. As team leader in Global Marine Technology at the Boston office, she is in in direct contact with a variety of maritime sectors including Massachusetts’ tourism industry. We sat down with Maryanne to learn about her work, the blue economy, seafood and some of her favorite Massachusetts spots.
Tell us about your background and how you came to work at the U.S. Commerce Department.
A global perspective was something I learned in childhood as a young immigrant from Ireland to the US and adventurous parents who prioritized education, culture and travel. I had multiple internships during college which ranged from media outlets, to political campaigns and private industry, during which I found myself most enthusiastic when engaged with international topics, and thus pursued an MBA in International Business. Subsequently, I worked overseas to further my cultural awareness and language skills. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration became a natural fit for my experience.
For the past decade I have been fortunate to assist exporters across Massachusetts from software companies in the telecom industry to franchisors and boat manufacturers. I enjoy working with the Mass Office of Travel & Tourism to learn the key markets of interest to the MA travel industry and how I can help to further promote the Commonwealth through our overseas network.
Many people don’t realize that tourism is an export. Please explain, and also, how does US Commerce help to encourage international visitors to come to Massachusetts and other states?
We recognize the travel and tourism industry is one of the most important sectors for U.S. exports and promote international tourism as a potential source of economic growth. When visitors from outside the U.S. spend their money here (for hotels, restaurants, local products, etc.), this influx of money from overseas for U.S. services and products is considered an export. Our Commercial Service network of foreign offices in the U.S. Embassies and Consulates in principal cities throughout the world assists to strategically market MA destinations, hotels, tour operators, and more to capture international business through promotion efforts with the local (foreign) travel industry.
For instance, we just spent the last two weeks promoting Visit MA as part of our Travel Dreams Campaign where we leveraged the “destination” aspect of the U.S. and highlighted MA locations as content through the US Embassy social media accounts. We are also hosting free “Check In” webinars to gain insight about travelers in foreign markets, what information and sites are important to them, and how and when they are looking to travel back to the U.S.
Your own specialty here in New England is marine technology. Can you talk about the region’s Blue Economy and how it aligns with the environment and with tourism?
The MA Maritime Economy is a rich driver of local employment, innovation, and economic growth. We are fortunate to have world class institutions, research organizations, and technology companies in the Commonwealth, such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Falmouth which is the largest oceanographic research center in the country. Massachusetts is widely acknowledged as an international leader in the marine robotics sector with many of the prominent manufacturers of autonomous underwater vehicles located here.
The traditional marine economy sectors such as fishing to tourism and recreation also remain significant. In fact, tourism and recreation is considered the largest maritime sector in MA with respect to jobs and the high value of services the tourism sector provides. Interestingly this mirrors national statistics of the Maritime Economy which also identifies tourism the top contributor as it comprises a wide range of activities from recreational boating, marine guided tours, recreational fishing, water activities, and marine trips and travel.
Massachusetts and indeed New England is famous for its seafood, such as scallops and lobster. How do you work with the fishing industry in your role at Commerce?
I attend the Seafood Expo North America held each year in Boston, the largest seafood trade expo in the United States and the second-largest seafood show in the world. The show brings over 1,300 exhibitors from about 50 countries to Boston, which is a great boom for the local seafood industry, the hotel and hospitality sector, and the region’s economy as a whole. I have organized meetings between foreign buyers from Asia and Africa with local seafood suppliers, while meeting MA companies and making referrals to partners at the Massachusetts Export Center and Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Services – all of which are aware of the necessary funding, education and market research services for MA companies to succeed in international markets.
When you have visitors from out-of-state, where do you like to take the in Massachusetts?
On a personal level, I absolutely love exploring the many attractions of Massachusetts. The Commonwealth blends so many of my interests and passions – from breathing in the sea air along the quaint fishing villages of the Cape and Islands, to enjoying cider tasting and nature walks in the Berkshires – I enjoy discovering the wide variety of activities Massachusetts has to offer. As a resident of Boston, the North End is a first stop to indulge in the fabulous food and share the importance of local history and politics. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is also a must and doing it all while enjoying the breathtaking city skyline is the icing on the cake. Additionally, as a historical hub home to many landmarks, I always enjoy showing visitors the myriad of sites from Plymouth Rock to Salem, and Minute Man National Historical Park. There are many spots I have yet to explore and my bucket list includes spending more time on the North Shore and other parts of the state.
Thank you, Maryanne.
For more info on the ITA Boston office, visit https://www.trade.gov/massachusetts-boston