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Posted by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Promoting the Splendors of Essex County

Nancy Gardella is executive director of the North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau and a seasoned tourism official.  We spoke to Nancy about the exciting activities happening North of Boston.


Tell us about your background and how you came to this position? 

My background is in non-profit management, first with the YMCA and then with the United Way before landing at the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce. There, I learned the profound way the tourism industry impacts the economic health of local communities as well as the Commonwealth at large. Earlier this year, I was honored to join the amazing team at the North of Boston CVB to begin this new adventure of promoting the unique character and appeal of this beloved region.


The 34 cities and towns of Essex County represent a rich variety of history, culture, cuisine and natural beauty.   How do you meld all of those amazing assets into your marketing campaign?

Part of what makes this job so much fun, and, admittedly, a bit of a challenge, is the wealth of diversity available in our small but mighty state. It’s my job to tell the inspirational stories of the authentic North of Boston experiences – from its breathtaking natural beauty to the hyper-local food scene, from its vibrant heritage, and arts and cultural experiences to the wide variety of recreation, shopping and outstanding lodging available to travelers of all kind. Really, it’s about selling the romance of the region as a place where visitors create memories that stay with them forever. And the best part is that I’m surrounded by savvy industry partners in every corner of Essex County who deliver all that, and more!


The coastal communities North of Boston are stunning. Tell us about some of the maritime activities most popular with visitors.

The full splendor of Mother Nature is on display along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway – an amazing 90-mile byway linking 14 coastal communities from Lynn to Salisbury.  Experiences along this evocative route elevate an already pretty ride into an adventure of a lifetime! Historic towns like Marblehead, Ipswich, Rockport and Newburyport invite you to park the car and immerse yourself in classic New England history.

Authentic Gloucester is not only home to films like 2022’s Academy Award winning CODA, but is also a perfect place to hop on a whale watch excursion or visit family-friendly Maritime Gloucester to learn about marine life. Board a beautiful schooner for a sunset cruise from Gloucester harbor, where you can easily imagine what it was like to sail on a fishing schooner on those same waters a hundred years ago.

And while every town has beautiful waterfront, the beaches in Cape Ann, such as Manchester-by-the-Sea, Crane’s Beach in Ipswich and the Salisbury beaches are among the fan favorites, and for good reason. They’re gorgeous, accessible, and perfect for strolling year-round.  Even our small cities, including Salem, Lynn, Swampscott and Beverly have surprisingly picturesque waterfronts, perfect for strolling, sailing and dining.

When it comes to enjoying great food, locavores will delight in all the options for hyper-local seafood prepared every way possible and partnered with the bounty from our local hardworking farms.


How does the CVB support its members and local businesses, especially those involved in hospitality and tourism?  

Our team proudly represents North of Boston as a high-value, sophisticated, year-round destination for domestic and international leisure, group tours, events and small meetings markets. The CVB is back in person, spearheading the promotion of our region to industry segments that are still in recovery from the impacts of COVID, such as group tour and small meetings.

Each year the team implements a vibrant marketing plan, and in FY23 that includes new and exciting social media, fresh blog content, attendance at trade shows, a new website, media, travel trade and influencer FAMs, mini-grants and dynamic, strategic year-round marketing.

CVB members are tourism champions, absolutely brilliant at what they do and the unique experiences they offer. Working collaboratively, we bolster our industry and communities by inspiring and attracting direct and indirect visitor spending that generates tax revenue for local municipalities and the Commonwealth, and thousands of jobs while supporting small businesses throughout North of Boston.


We’re looking forward to NBCVB’s event on September 9 at the Maria Miles Visitor Center in Salisbury.  What’s on the agenda for the day?

Our Annual Open House at the Maria Miles Visitor Center celebrates several things: the amazing job done by the talented staff who provide critical support to the traveling public throughout the year; Essex County legislators who understand and support tourism funding as an important regional economic driver as well as an investment in our State’s 3rd largest industry; and lastly, we’ll celebrate our industry partners who have been awarded tourism mini-grants that will drive visitation to Essex County during the shoulder seasons.


Thanks Nancy.

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