If forecasts about travelers sticking close to home this summer prove true, the region's tourism mavens ought to be in clover come September.
At least that's what they're saying now.
"That's good for us," Ed Dombroskas, executive director of the Eastern Regional Tourism District, said this week. "We're right between two population centers, so that should help."
In its Memorial Day forecast, AAA said travel originating in New England over the weekend is expected to be up 0.4 percent over the same weekend a year ago. Automobile traffic in the region is projected to climb by 0.6 percent while air travel is expected to be down by 6.2 percent.
"Signs of an improved economy indicate increased travel, but high prices associated with gas consumption will encourage shorter road trips," the travel service said.
"Where we're located, dead smack in the New York-to-Boston corridor, I think it's good," Dave Labrie, a Niantic innkeeper, said of the forecast. "Even in the state, there's a ton of people in places like West Hartford, Simsbury, Avon. If they're staying close to home, maybe they can find a sitter for a couple of nights and come down to the shoreline."
Labrie, who said advance summer bookings are up over last year at his Inn at Harbor Hill Marina after "a great winter and spring," believes people are feeling more confident about the economy.
It can't hurt that gasoline, still plenty pricey, is cheaper than it was a year ago. On Friday, the eve of the holiday weekend, the average price of a gallon of unleaded in Connecticut was $3.91, according to GasBuddy.com, about 24 cents less than it was a year ago.
Spokesmen for the region's major tourist attractions are upbeat, too.
"We're very optimistic," said Dan McFadden, Mystic Seaport's director of communications. "At this point, we're up over last year (in attendance) and we're up with families. We're hoping to build on that momentum. We're not expecting anything dramatic, but remember, a hurricane cut last year short."
Tropical Storm Irene hammered the Northeast, including Connecticut, in late August.
Mystic Aquarium, which got a boost from last month's opening of its renamed Ocean Exploration Center and Titanic exhibit, has also been enjoying healthy attendance in 2012, according to Erin Merz, manager of media and public relations. In the two-week period following the exhibit's debut, the aquarium had 70,000 visitors - 10 percent of what it typically expects to draw in a year.
"So we're expecting a good summer," Merz said.
The aquarium is still finalizing plans to show movies this summer on a temporary screen it will erect in the main parking lot, an amenity aimed at locals.
Those connected with southeastern Connecticut tourism said they expect to benefit from the state's new branding campaign, "Connecticut, Still Revolutionary," unveiled less than two weeks ago. It focuses on the state's historical features.
"We're a history museum, so we really like it," the Seaport's McFadden said. "The most important thing is that the state is out marketing the state. We can't afford to market aggressively in New York or Boston, so if the state does, we can concentrate on Connecticut and Rhode Island, places where our budget can go further."
Dombroskas, of the regional tourism district, said it's too soon to measure the effect of the state campaign.
"The first indication will be the number of people who move from the state's website to ours," he said. "We anticipate it will have a significant impact."
The state tourism office's website is at www.CTvisit.com, while the site for the eastern district, also known as "Mystic Country," is www.mystic.org.
"I'm feeling positive about this year," Dombroskas said, "mostly because it seems like the attractions and the institutions that service travelers are ready. Everybody has an upbeat attitude."