What could be better than summer in Newport? We are blessed with a thriving tourism economy and our City by the Sea is filled with wonderful events, fabulous summer weather and the vision of many possibilities. But at what cost?
Let’s start a conversation on the future of our tourism economy:
• How can we build a thriving tourism and sustainable economy and maintain quality of life for Newport residents and maintain our historical heritage?
• How can we attract tourism investment to meet these goals?
• Can government revenues from tourism activities cover the added costs for infrastructure and government services?
• How we profit from sustainable tourism?
• And finally, if Newport Grand is approved for table games, is Newport happy with 1% of the profits?
In their Spring 2014 report to the Newport City Council, the Newport Finance Review Commission reported that:
• $640 million of tourism dollars are generated in Newport annually.
• Only a small portion of this economic inflow makes it to Newport’s municipal revenue budget -- about $15 million.
• For every ten tax dollars generated from tourism in Newport, seven dollars stay in the State budget.
And now, as we face a new decision on expanded gaming, it is important to note that for every gaming dollar generated, 60% goes to the State, 28% to Newport Grand and the balance of just over 1% goes to the city of Newport.
On the expense side there are embedded expenses of infrastructure and municipal services (e.g., police, fire, trash) associated with supporting and encouraging a vibrant tourism industry. The stress of the summer traffic, limited parking and crowds of tourists -- approximately 3,500,000 in 2013 -- have a profound impact on Newport.
I know that the tourist economy is the backbone of our city. From 1986-2001 I owned a Bed and Breakfast in downtown Newport. I lived and worked by the seasonal nature of business in Newport. But as I think about our economy, I ask what is our shared vision for the economic future of Newport?
As part my Unfolding Platform, I will propose strategies for examining these issues. Please join in the discussion, watch for my next email on the tourism economy and email me your ideas at LaurenHCarson@gmail.com.