Tourism in Vermont

Discover how tourism evolved in Vermont.

Tourism in Vermont has often been synonymous with picturesque nature, ski slopes, and maple syrup. The image the state presents is seen through advertisements across the state and slogans such as “the Green Mountain State” and “Vermont Naturally”. While these concepts have existed in Vermont for many years, the history of Vermont’s tourism can be traced back to changes that took place in the state a century ago. Large changes started at the turn of the 20th century. Vermont was promoted as an agricultural state rich with opportunity. But this idealized lifestyle was advertised to out-of-staters beginning in the 1800s.

In the 1800s, Vermont looked vastly different than it does today. Farming communities have existed in Vermont since its founding. Large old-growth forests were clearcut for agricultural purposes like planting fields and raising livestock. In fact, 80% of Vermont forests were harvested to create these large pastoral areas. Environmental degradation, fluctuating land values coupled with the difficulties of making a living farming due to cheaper western wool drove Vermont residents to push westward. While attractive economic opportunities lured people away, other industries began to take root. Over time, agricultural land was reclaimed by nature.

Around the turn of the 20th century, people began to understand the economic value of scenery. Instead of focusing on advertising land for agricultural purposes, Vermont farms were “rebranded” as quaint summer homes worthy of purchase to escape life in the city. Vermont railroads began advertising getaways to grow business, also. The Bureau of Publicity was established within the State Department in 1911. Its creation demonstrated the importance of tourism to Vermont’s economy. Eventually, tourism spilled into all seasons. Woodstock welcomed the first towrope in 1934. The ski industry grew in popularity. Tourism continues to be an important aspect of Vermont’s identity with visitors continuing to enjoy its natural beauty.