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Guest MINDSETTER™ Rep. Lauren Carson: Reorganize, Re-energize RI Tourism

Saturday, June 06, 2015

 

The beauty of our state is unbounded — from the sparking beaches of Newport and Aquidneck Island to the rugged shoreline of Beavertail; from the historic landmarks that dot the capital city and BlackstoneValley to the fields, streams and woodlands of the western part of the state. We have arguably the best restaurants in the region if not the nation, history at every turn and a diversity of traditions and cultures that adds to the richness of the state.

With all this to offer, it is unfortunate we don’t do a better job of promoting the entire state of Rhode Island. We need to reorganize and re-energize our efforts to make Rhode Island — not just a city here or a beach there — a destination for tourists and the money they bring with them. This will be good for business.

 Rhode Island invests just under $7 million annually in tourism. But our neighboring states have much more aggressive marketing budgets. Connecticut revitalized its tourism budget in 2012 by committing $24 million, and Massachusetts spent $16 million in Fiscal Year 2014. On average, states spend nearly $3 per capita to promote tourism. In Rhode Island, it’s less than a half dollar. Clearly, Rhode Island is not keeping pace in the region and our lack of investment is affecting our tourism bottom line.
 
As the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation reported in a comprehensive tourism marketing and branding investment plan issued in December, the lack of an effective, overarching state brand and marketing initiative has resulted in a loss in market share nationally and resulted in more tourism dollars going to nearby states instead. The report proposed that a $4 million investment in a state branding campaign could result in massive growth of tourism and tourist dollars in the state. That level of funding and marketing could be expected to attract between 500,000 and 670,000 new visitors to Rhode Island. Those visitors could be expected to spend between $210 million and $280 million in the state, generating between $9 million and $12 million in state sales and occupancy taxes.  For these reasons, I have introduced legislation (2015-H 5914) that would appropriate $4 million to the Tourism Division for promoting the whole state as a brand.

Tourism is a thriving sector of the Rhode Island economy. The Volvo Ocean Race, a prestigious around-the-world race held every three years, chose Newport as the only North American port for this global event. Over 12 days last month, 135,000 people visited the VolvoVillage at FortAdamsState Park, with a direct economic impact to the state expected to be between $40 million and $100 million. One hotel search site recently named Newport one of the country’s Top 50 cities to visit and one of America’s most sought-after vacation spots. Now that’s economic development.

This is a business decision: Invest in the wonders of Rhode Island and continue to enjoy the economic returns that our tourism economy has been delivering. Business acumen tells me to fund the parts of the system that are producing economic returns, design a coordinated statewide organizational strategy that will support local economic expansion and make increases in overall statewide investments to support and to compete with our neighboring states.
 
I also propose that any new statewide marketing campaign report regularly to the General Assembly. I would like to see an executive summary on our new statewide marketing programs, to include measurements on the return on our investments, trends and data so that the Assembly may better understand the results of our market strategies.
 
I urge the leadership of the General Assembly to take heed of the Commerce RI report and commit the funds necessary to create a state brand to better sell Rhode Island as a tourist destination, while continuing to support the good work being done on the local tourism level. We have so much to offer, but we need to do a much better job of convincing others to visit Rhode Island and see it all for themselves.

Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), currently serving her first term, is a member of the House Committee on Small Business and the House Committee on Oversight.

 

Related Slideshow: Tourism Promotion: See How Much States Spend

Below is the amount spent at the state level on tourism promotion, the total amount of expenditures, and the ratio of tourism spending to total spending. Figures on tourism spending are taken from skift.com, a global travel news and information site.

State expenditures were obtained from the National Association of State Budget Officers. Information is for fiscal year 2013, the most recent for which data in both categories was available. Note that complete data was not available for the states of Connecticut and Washington. States are listed in order of lowest to highest spenders.

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48.

State: Pennsylvania

Tourism Spending: $5.8 Million

Total Expenditures: $85.3 Million 

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0068%

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47.

State: Indiana

Tourism Spending: $2.3 million

Total Expenditures: $28.1 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0082%

Photo: Diego Delso

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46.

State: Ohio

Tourism Spending: $5 million

Total Expenditures: $58.2 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0086%

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45.

State: Rhode Island

Tourism Spending: $710,000

Total Expenditures: $7.8 Million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0090%

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44.

State: Iowa

Tourism Spending: $2.4 million

Total Expenditures: $19.5 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0123%

Photo: Ben Franske

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43.

State: New York

Tourism Spending: $19 million

Total Expenditures: $133 Million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0144%

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42.

State: Georgia

Tourism Spending: $6.8 million

Total Expenditures: $42.4 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0160%

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41.

State: New Jersey

Tourism Spending: $9 million

Total Expenditures: $50.8 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0177%

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40.

State: Massachusetts

Tourism Spending: $10.9 million

Total Expenditures: $57.5 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0189%

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39.

State: Delaware

Tourism Spending: $1.9 million

Total Expenditures: $9.1 million

% of State Budget Spent on tourism Promotion: 0.0213%

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38.

State: California

Tourism Spending: $50 million

Total Expenditures: $211.4 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0236%

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37.

State: North Carolina

Tourism Spending: $10.4 million

Total Expenditures: $43 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0242%

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36.

State: Minnesota

Tourism Spending: $8.5 million

Total Expenditures: $33,074,000,000

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0257%

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35.

State: Maryland

Tourism Spending: $10.4 million

Total Expenditures: $36.2 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0287%

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34.

State: Kentucky

Tourism Spending: $7.4 million

Total Expenditures: $25.6 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0288%

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33.

State: Kansas

Tourism Spending: $4.8 million

Total Expenditures: $13.9 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0344%

Photo: Gerald B. Keane

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32.

State: West Virginia

Tourism Spending: $7.7 million

Total Expenditures: $22.3 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0345%

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31.

State: Mississippi

Tourism Spending: $6.4 million

Total Expenditures: $18.5 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0346%

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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30.

State: Wisconsin

Tourism Spending: $14.9 million

Total Expenditures: $42.7 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0348%

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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29.

State: Tennessee

Tourism Spending: $11.7 million

Total Expenditures: $30.4 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0384%

Photo: Jeremy Atherton

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28.

State: Virginia

Tourism Spending: $17.6 million

Total Expenditures: $45.7 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0385%

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27.

State: Texas

Tourism Spending: $37.2 million

Total Expenditures: $93.2 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0399%

Photo: Copernico Contreras
 

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26.

State: Arizona

Tourism Spending: $12.9 million

Total Expenditures: $28.2 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0456%

Photo: Luca Galuzzi

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25.

State: Oregon

Tourism Spending: $12 million

Total Expenditures: $25.8 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0465%

Photo: Max Schwarz

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24.

State: Alabama

Tourism Spending: $11.6 million

Total Expenditures: $24.5 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0473%

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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23.

State: New Mexico

Tourism Spending: $7.1 million

Total Expenditures: $14.6 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0483%

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22.

State: Louisiana

Tourism Spending: $13.2 million

Total Expenditures: $27.3 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0483%

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21.

State: Oklahoma

Tourism Spending: $10.7 million

Total Expenditures: $21.4 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0499%

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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20.

State: Missouri

Tourism Spending: $11.6 million

Total Expenditures: $22.9 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0506%

Photo: Daniel Schwen

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19.

State: Colorado

Tourism Spending: $14.7 million

Total Expenditures: $29.035 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0506%

Photo: Gorgo

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18.

State: Nebraska

Tourism Spending: $5.2 million

Total Expenditures: $10.1 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0512%

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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17.

State: Michigan

Tourism Spending: $27.4 million

Total Expenditures: $47.3 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0578%

Photo: Dave Parker

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16.

State: Vermont

Tourism Spending: $2.9 million

Total Expenditures: $4.9 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0584%

Photo: Jared C. Benedict

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15.

State: South Carolina

Tourism Spending: $13.6 million

Total Expenditures: $22.2 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0612%

Photo: MoodyGroove

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14.

State: Arkansas

Tourism Spending: $15.1 million

Total Expenditures: $21.4 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0704%

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13.

State: Illinois

Tourism Spending: $55.4 million

Total Expenditures: $65.2 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0849%

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12.

State: Florida

Tourism Spending: $56.2 million

Total Expenditures: $63.9 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0879%

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11.

State: North Dakota

Tourism Spending: $5.1 million

Total Expenditures: $5.712 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.0893%

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10.

State: Idaho

Tourism Spending: $7.2 million

Total Expenditures: $6.691 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.1076%

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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9.

State: Utah

Tourism Spending: $14.4 million

Total Expenditures: $12.679 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.1136%

Photo: Bernard Gagnon

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8.

State: Maine

Tourism Spending: $9.8 million

Total Expenditures: $7.679 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.1276%

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7.

State: New Hampshire

Tourism Spending: $6.9 million

Total Expenditures: $5.017 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.1375%

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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6.

State: Wyoming

Tourism Spending: $12.6 million

Total Expenditures: $9.132 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.1380%

Photo: Shiras Rajendran

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5.

State: Alaska

Tourism Spending: $17 million

Total Expenditures: $11.838 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.1436%

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4.

State: Nevada

Tourism Spending: $14.8 million

Total Expenditures: $8.897 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.1663%

Photo: John Phelan

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3.

State: Montana

Tourism Spending: $12.3 million

Total Expenditures: $6.04 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.2036%

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2.

State: South Dakota

Tourism Spending: $12.2 million

Total Expenditures: $4.098 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.2977%

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1.

State: Hawaii

Tourism Spending: $75 million

Total Expenditures: $11.584 million

% of State Budget Spent on Tourism Promotion: 0.6474% 

Photo: Cristo Vlahos

 
 

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