In 1957, the sand dunes, salty air, and villages of Cape Cod were made famous across the world with one hit song. Patti Page, a 30-year-old singer originally from Oklahoma, had never been to the Cape when she recorded “Old Cape Cod.” Yet, the song’s sweet nostalgia and adoring description of the region’s natural beauty inspired generations of vacationers to visit, and even prompted some to make Cape Cod their home.
While Patti Page’s “Old Cape Cod” didn’t set out to be a postcard for tourism, the quaintness and nostalgia it so vividly depicts have become synonymous with the Cape. People travel here year after year, expecting to find this place just as they left it – a familiar time capsule of days gone by.
Our region has benefited from forward-thinking policies that protect the natural environment and, by extension, preserve the quintessential character and economic viability of Cape Cod. President Kennedy signed legislation establishing the Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961, and that commitment to land preservation and environmental stewardship reverberates today through the tireless efforts of conservationists in every town, and the strong environmental leadership at the Association to Preserve Cape Cod.
Still, much like our ever-shifting coastline, Old Cape Cod is changing. In 1935, the Sagamore and Bourne bridges opened, ready to receive 1 million crossings a year. Today, these bridges see 38 million crossings, roughly the same as the Golden Gate Bridge. In 1950, the population of Cape Cod was 46,805. As of the latest Census estimates, more than 230,000 year-round residents now call Cape Cod home. And the thriving tourism economy that has brought our region so much prosperity and opportunity also continues to present very real challenges, including preserving attainable housing for residents and preserving the region’s environmental health for future generations.
The COVID-19 pandemic intensified our biggest challenges, while dramatically altering the regional economy and fundamentally changing the tourism industry. Cape Cod’s closest regional competitors – Portland, Maine; Newport, Rhode Island; Stowe, Vermont, just to name a few – are increasingly promoting the year-round appeal of their destinations, reaching visitors from around the world. Competitors are routinely outspending the Cape in marketing, and some are actively working to pull visitors away from our region.
To remain competitive and sustain the vibrant tourism economy that so many Cape Cod businesses and residents rely on, we need to paint a vivid picture of what makes Cape Cod so special and captivating, much like Patti Page did nearly 70 years ago.
I’m excited to share that, later this month, we’ll be doing just that. On February 28th, the Cape Cod Chamber will unveil a new Cape Cod brand. We are thrilled to share the result of over a year of stakeholder engagement, research, and brand development, culminating in a modern brand that captures the past, present, and future of the Cape Cod region as a world-renowned destination.