BRISTOL – Rhode Island has incredible resources — a gorgeous coastline, top-notch restaurants, a thriving arts scene and a rich history — but we are not best utilizing these resources to drive our economy. As we continue to struggle with the highest unemployment rate in the country, we have to take advantage of our state’s assets to grow our economy and create new jobs. This morning, Gina was joined by members of Explore Bristol, elected officials and local business owners to roll out the fourth component of her Blueprint for Rhode Island: promoting tourism. Following her tourism plan release, she toured Discover Newport and talked with staff about how we can better promote our state.
Tourism is already one of our state’s most prosperous industries, supporting thousands of jobs and bringing in millions in spending and tax revenue. But we aren’t doing nearly enough to spread the news about Rhode Island to the rest of the world. Our state dramatically lags behind neighbors like Massachusetts and Connecticut in statewide tourism spending; in fact, Rhode Island’s total budget for statewide marketing efforts is just $400,000 a year.
“Our tourism industry has amazing untapped potential” said Gina. “But we need a coordinated, statewide plan with strategic, collaborative, targeted marketing efforts to highlight our strengths. An effective campaign can bring more visitors to our borders, fill our hotels, retail stores and restaurants, and have powerful ripple effects throughout our entire economy, helping to create thousands of quality jobs.”
As governor, Gina will take a four-pronged strategic approach to grow our tourism industry and create more than 5,000 new jobs in the next five years.
Her plan will:
- Invest in highly-targeted marketing and advertising with a cohesive statewide strategy to attract more visitors to Rhode Island; Other cities and states have found that small, smart investments in tourism marketing result in millions in visitor spending, support thousands of new jobs, and bring in much-needed tax revenue. We should do the same here in Rhode Island.
- Make Rhode Island a world-class culinary destination, by highlighting our amazing restaurants, breweries, vineyards, and thriving food industry; we already have a rich culinary landscape, but we must create branding efforts to highlight this asset to bring more visitors to our borders.
- Foster workforce development efforts that focus on tourism and hospitality industries; we have a world-class hospitality college right here in Rhode Island. We should forge a tighter relationship between Johnson and Wales and our tourism industry to prepare a tourism workforce ready for growth.
- Improve our state’s tourism infrastructure; with an ideal location on I-95, we have the perfect opportunity to capture travelers traveling on the east coast, if we invest in smart tourism infrastructure like welcome centers, highway signage, and links to other regional destinations.