With Memorial Day over, the summer tourism season is now underway. Industry experts have high hopes for the coming months. According the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, about 40 percent of all tourist spending in the state happens between June and August.
Brian Hodge, a spokesman for the agency, says tourist spending has increased steadily over the last five years. With gas prices expected to remain below $3 through the summer months, state officials expect that uptick in tourist spending to continue.
In Newport, tourism officials say the America's Cup race, hosted this year in Bermuda, is expected to generate sailing tourism. Race enthusiasts find Newport an easy destination from Bermuda and are likely to stop in for a visit.
Martha Sheridan, President and CEO of the Providence Warick Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the Rhode Island Convention Center is expecting healthy turnout for a variety of events this summer.
“You know we’re probably looking at tens of thousands of people, maybe closer to the 10,000 mark,” said Sheridan. “And their cumulative spending I would guess would be somewhere around maybe $15 million to $20 million.”
The convention center has booked some high-profile meetings this year, including the National Governors Association’s summer meeting. Other gatherings including a meeting of the National Federation of State High School Associations and the International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant.
Sheridan says Providence, which once emptied out in the summer months, is fast becoming a more popular destination for regional tourists.