Nearly 400 people, including Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, as well as representatives from each of the state’s tourism regions, presented awards to individuals and organizations for their exceptional impact on Rhode Island’s tourism industry at the 27th Annual Tourism Unity Luncheon and Travel Exchange at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick last Tuesday.
They also celebrated the industry’s contributions to the state’s economy and its role in promoting Rhode Island’s beauty, history and culture to visitors locally, regionally and around the world, as travel and tourism is a $5.2 billion industry in Rhode Island that supports more than 41,000 jobs.
According to an IHS Global Insight study of 2010 Rhode Island tourism results; every 187 visitors create a new job in the state.
This year’s luncheon theme of “Beautiful Rhode Island” focused on the enjoyment of the state’s natural, cultural and historical assets.
“We take this first full week in May to celebrate the many wonderful impacts tourism has on the economy,” said Rhode Island Economic Development Director of State Tourism Mark Brodeur in an interview before the event. “It’s America’s number one employer and one of Rhode Island’s top employers, as well. From the standpoint of jobs and taxes, it works for Rhode Island every day.”
During the event, he said, “Rhode Island is a great place to be. Together, with the six New England states, we are a very strong product. The governor loves the beauty of Rhode Island.”
Chafee, who also addressed the crowd, solidified Brodeur’s sentiments. He noted that the tourism industry is a key part of a strong economy.
“It supports tens of thousands of jobs and helps promote the best of what Rhode Island has to offer in terms of our natural beauty, our arts and culture and the great variety of travel experiences visitors can enjoy in such an easily accessible state, from the historic mills of Blackstone Valley to the beaches of South County,” Chafee said at the event.
Additionally, Mayor Scott Avedisian and members of his staff, including Director of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Development Karen Jedson were in attendance. They were thrilled to see the Warwick Planning Department and the Department of Public Works staff honored as a 2012 Warwick Regional Tourism Award Recipient for their work to beautify Rocky Point.
Other statewide individuals and organizations that earned awards included: Hasbro, Inc.; Malcolm Greenaway; Art Night in Bristol and Warren; Sail Newport; Lynne McCormack; and Chuck Royce. Moreover, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management earned the Rhode Island Achievement Award.
“This year’s honorees truly exemplify the spirit of ‘Beautiful Rhode Island' as a unique destination offering an unending treasure trove of natural and cultural gems ready to be enjoyed,” said Brodeur. “Tourism is a powerful economic engine for Rhode Island. Whether measured through jobs, revenues, visitors or media exposure, tourism literally puts Rhode Island on the map.”
A list of more than 400 events happening this season throughout the state is available at www.visitrhodeisland.com.
The luncheon was sponsored by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and more than 25 Travel Exchange exhibitors showcasing their products, services and destinations. AAA Horizons Magazine; Academy Bus; Crowne Plaza Hotel; Collette Vacations; Newport Grand; Rhode Island Fast Ferry; Rhode Monthly; and RIPTA provided additional sponsorship support.
RISCA Executive Director Randall Rosenbaum and the state Tourism Division partnered to secure complimentary live performances. The featured artists included multi award-winning Pendragon, celebrating the songs, stories, tunes and dances of those who made their home along the banks of the Blackstone River, and the Atwater-Donnelly Trio, whose concerts and recordings have earned many regional “Best Of” awards and resonate with an astonishing array of instruments like the mountain dulcimer, old-time banjo, tin whistle, guitar, limberjack, mandolin, harmonica, feet, and more.