Tourism fiefdoms are relics to relinquish

One Ocean State industry employs thousands and generates billions of dollars every year, and yet the state continues to invest less and less and avoids structural change that would make a difference. More

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PBN Editorial

Tourism fiefdoms are relics to relinquish

Posted 5/14/12

One Ocean State industry employs thousands and generates billions of dollars every year, and yet the state continues to invest less and less and avoids structural change that would make a difference.

The industry is tourism and hospitality, and according to the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, it brings in $5.2 billion in spending per year. Yet the state, cash-strapped as it is, continues to shrink the amount of money it spends on promoting the state, down by more than half since 2008 to $330,000 in fiscal 2012.

As usual, our neighbors are spending more, with Massachusetts committing nearly 20 times as much as the Ocean State and Connecticut in the throes of a $15 million campaign.

While it is difficult to imagine the state budget yielding more marketing dollars, the state could generate a bigger buzz for Rhode Island by consolidating the seven local tourism boards into the State Tourism Division. Each local board operates independently and it is inconceivable that a centralized office wouldn’t make bigger waves for the same aggregate spending. Doesn’t the state’s economy deserve at least that kind of commitment from its government? •

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