Newport tourism leaders join discussion on future of travel industry

As more newly vaccinated tourists eagerly make travel plans for the summer and fall, Rhode Island’s tourism and hospitality sector has been brainstorming ways to keep attracting visitors year-round.

Leaders in the tourism and hospitality industry from Newport and across Rhode Island joined government representatives and industry experts in a virtual meeting Thursday evening to discuss how the travel industry in Newport can better recover from the pandemic. These virtual meetings are a part of a series of meetings the governor is holding with various industries called Community Conversations. 

Bowen's Wharf was packed in May for the Newport Oyster & Chowder festival, the first major event in the city since the start of the COVID pandemic. Newport and state officials are looking at ways to build back tourism in the city and state.

“Newport is open for business, everybody should know that,” Rep. Lauren Carson (D-Newport) said at the beginning of the meeting. “It’s really busy in town, let me tell you, there’s traffic all over. Even on a Monday and Tuesday night the streets are filled, so I really think people are looking forward to coming back from Rhode Island.”

The Facebook livestream began with a presentation on the current status of the tourism industry, led by travel statistics firm Tourism Economics President Adam Sacks. Sacks gave several data points indicating a “summer mini-boom” for the U.S. economy, including rising rates of vaccination and job openings across the country in what Sacks described as the “best case scenario” in terms of their predictions for economic recovery.