State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, was joined by industry leaders from around the state at the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce in Middletown — including representatives from various industries such as transportation, lodging and cultural destinations. Edward Dombroskas, executive director of the Eastern Connecticut Regional Tourism District; Jeffry Muthersbaugh, owner of the Nehemiah Brainerd B&B in Haddam; Bridgeport’s Beardsley Zoo Director Gregg Dancho, and Don Devivo, president of Middletown-based Dattco transportation were among those who spoke about the initiative.

Once in place, the Blue Ribbon Panel on Tourism will conduct meetings and hearings throughout the state in the coming months to listen and seek input from the public, businesses and institutions. The committee will comprise various sectors of the travel industry, including convention and event planners, campgrounds, transportation, lodging, parks, cultural organizations, agritourism, marine trades and retail.

A robust tourism industry will boost state coffers, create new jobs, and bolster businesses big and small, officials said.

“We turn on the TV and see ‘come to Michigan, ‘come to New Jersey,’ but we don’t see ‘come to Connecticut,’” Aresimowicz said.

 Other state initiatives, such as encouraging people to take a ‘staycation’ a number of years ago by visiting attractions as a day, overnight or weekend jaunt, had limited results.

“Given the state budgets over the past several years, they’ve been able to figure out a way to do more with less. Getting in the room, taking all the revenue sources, putting them on the table, and talking about what’s the best way to spend those dollars is actually going to save us money in the long run,” Aresimowicz said.

“Right now, without an overall comprehensive strategy, we’re just throwing money at the issue and we’re not doing it in a way that makes sense,” he said.

Tourism in Connecticut is a $14.7 billion industry, supporting nearly 83,000 jobs and producing $1.7 billion in total tax revenue, according to the state Department of Economic and Community Development. The questions Tuesday were about how much the state needs to devote to a campaign, how to use those dollars wisely, and finding innovative ways to boost the state’s economy through tourism.