PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s no secret that the tourism and hospitality industries in Rhode Island were among those hit hardest by the pandemic.
“14% of our state’s workforce is actually in the hospitality space,” said Matt Sheaff, senior communications advisor to Gov. Dan McKee.
In an effort to help those sectors rebuild, the federal government is distributing grants to more than 30 states through the American Rescue Plan. This week, the McKee administration announced Rhode Island is set to receive $10.6 million, which will be used to support businesses, jobs and projects in the tourism, travel and outdoor recreation industries.
Sheaff said the grant will support businesses across Rhode Island, both big and small.
“Unfortunately, for Providence, it’s been a really tough uphill battle in terms of getting back to 2019 levels,” said Kristen Adamo of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Adamo said she was excited to learn of the federal grant.
“It’s not just going to help organizations like mine. It’s also going to help the people who really need it in the tourism industry,” she said.
Some of the grant proposals, according to Sheaff, include an increase in paid advertising, enhancing tourism websites, and even improving accessibility to transportation.
“We want to use some of these funds for planning dollars for future infrastructure investments to increase accessibility across our state,” he said.
Sheaff said the money will also go toward building a plan to expand the state’s tourism season and boost visitation year-round by attracting travelers who stay for extended periods of time.
“That’s key to having an economic impact on our economy,” Sheaff added. “It’s the overnight visitors that spend more, buy more souvenirs, go more restaurants, and so that’s what we’re going to be aimed at.”
Rhode Island will have up to four years to use the funds.