Since its creation in 1985, the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council has been a leader in transforming Rhode Island’s Blackstone Valley into an internationally-recognized visitor destination — a strong, vibrant region for visitors and residents alike. Working in conjunction with local communities, state and federal governments, and like-minded nonprofits and businesses, the Council has not only increased the number of visitors and enhanced their experiences, but strengthened the region’s economy, created a stronger, cleaner environment, and improved the quality of life for Blackstone Valley residents.
Today, thanks to the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council and its many partners and collaborators, the Blackstone Valley is considered one of Rhode Island’s most significant visitor destinations, and a region where even our poorest communities have become more attractive places to live and work.
Home to some of Rhode Island’s most visited attractions and only historical national park, the Blackstone Valley, through its many historic sites and museums, is THE place to relive our great industrial heritage. It is a major arts destination and the location of some of our state’s finest, most unique, dining establishments.
Its many parks, farms and open spaces containing miles of waterways, hiking trails, bike paths, and abundance of wildlife and fall foliage make it one of the state’s outdoor recreational hotspots. At the heart of that renaissance is the Blackstone River which is now a haven for boaters, wildlife watchers, and fishermen.
Without any mansions or ocean beaches, the Council built on many of the assets existing in the region prior to the Council’s creation: a rich, cultural heritage and historic legacy, ethnic diversity, the Blackstone River, parks and recreational facilities, existing attractions such as the Pawtucket Red Sox, Twin River, Slater Mill, and a number of other historical attractions. Our success has been built upon the belief that healthy, vibrant and unique communities become stronger visitor destinations since proud and informed residents, after all, are more likely to encourage people to visit their home towns.
According to the UNWTO, sustainable tourism can be defined as: “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”
The Valley’s turnaround can be attributed, in large part, to a reliance on sustainable tourism principles that:
Improve Quality of Life: The Council’s main goal is in improving the quality of life for its region’s residents. Healthy, vibrant, and unique communities become destinations for visitors.
Focus on Historical Preservation: The Valley has a story to tell. It is an invisible thread that connects the hundreds of historical sites to the residents and the urban fabric. Through identification, interpretation and preservation, these sites become some of the unique resources that bring value to the region. As the Council continually moves into the future, it is the Valley’s history that is the root for conscience and sustainable community development.
Advocates Environmental Justice and Conservation: It is important to remember where one comes from. The region’s people, structures and way of life thrive here because of the Blackstone River. This enormous watershed is a delicate yet resilient environment that must be conserved, honored and respected. The Council is one of the most stalwart environmental educators and patrons of the region.’
“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum, Senegalese Ecologist.
Encourages Cultural Appreciation & Interpretation: The many peoples who have called the Valley home mirror the chronicles of the rest of America. From the original Narragansett, Nipmuc and Wampanoag tribes, to the countless waves of immigrants from around the globe, all have left their indelible mark. The Council celebrates the rich past and current cultures of the Valley and spreads the message of unity, social responsibility and voice.
These overarching missions are met through direct approaches including:
Unlike other tourism councils, the BVTC, in order to attract visitors, had to create events and attractions in addition to promoting what already existed. They also had to engage in many economic, environmental and community development projects in order to build up the region’s economy and improve quality of life that helped attract people to live and work here. Among the Council’s greatest accomplishments:
Events & Attractions
The Council has created and in most cases operated a number of tours, festivals, and other events. These include:
Economic, Environmental and Community Development
Marketing and Promotion
Awards & Recognition – Don’t Take Our Word for It
When it comes to the Council’s success with transforming the Blackstone Valley into a visitor destination and better place to live and work, don’t take our word for it. The Tourism Council has received numerous international, national, state and local awards and recognition for their efforts to build up the region. These include:
The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council will continue building a stronger Blackstone Valley through operating and enhancing our attractions and annual events, community and economic development efforts, environmental cleanup and beautification initiatives, and promotional efforts. Through quality planning and collaboration, the Council will continue enhancing the environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and well-being without compromising the Blackstone Valley for future generations.
Activities for 2019 and beyond include: