Establishment of the Rhode Island
Sustainable Tourism Project (RISTP)
According to the World Tourism
Organization planning tourism at all levels is essential
for achieving successful tourism development and
management. The experience of many tourism areas in the
world has demonstrated that, on a long-term basis, the
planned approach to developing tourism can bring
benefits without significant problems, and maintain
satisfied visitor markets.
Places that have allowed tourism to
develop without planning, are often suffering from
environmental and social problems. These uncontrolled
tourism areas cannot effectively compete with planned
visitor destinations. Areas usually can be redeveloped,
but that requires much time and financial investment.
Sustainable development of tourism is acutely important,
because most tourism development, and Rhode Island is no
different, depends on attractions and activities related
to the natural environment, history, heritage and
cultural patterns. If these resources are degraded or
destroyed, then tourism areas cannot attract visitors
and tourism will not be successful.
Visitors seek destinations that have
a high level of environmental quality. Visitors enjoy
visiting places that are attractive, clean and neither
polluted nor congested. Further it is essential that
residents should not have to suffer from a deteriorated
environment, poor social conditions and a deteriorated
quality of life. Tourism Planning requires an
understanding of sustainable development and the guiding
values for sustainable tourism.
Rhode Island communities should be
made sufficiently aware of how the tourism industry and
tourism system works, its impacts, as well as the
various processes to integrate and engage in
participatory planning, consensus building, and conflict
resolution among stakeholders.
Achieving sustainable tourism is a
continuous process that requires constant monitoring of
impacts, introducing the necessary preventive and/or
corrective measures when necessary, and research about
current and emerging trends in tourism and potential
domestic and international markets. Moreover,
sustainable tourism must maintain a high level of
visitor satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience
to visitors, raising their awareness about
sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism
Rhode Island would be well served by
a sustainable tourism development plan to introduce,
discuss and analyze the main elements of planning to
promote sustainable tourism. This plan would emphasize
the key role that local communities play in the
achievement of sustainable economic development through
tourism, the importance of leadership and skills
training programs, and the role of different
stakeholders in strategy implementation.
A sustainable tourism plan for Rhode
Island would highlight the importance of evaluating
performance in achieving these practices in tourism
planning and addressing future challenges and issues
associated with how planning can contribute to the
achievement of sustainable tourism.
Rhode Island’s land, sea and urban
areas offer much, but are easy to abuse if the right
direction is not set for our tourism industry. While as
a state, Rhode Island, led by the Rhode Island Division
of Tourism, works marketing itself, the idea of
sustainable tourism is elusive. Rhode Island is rich in
resources, resources that if depleted or abused, will
forever limit opportunities to raise the quality of life
for residents, create a premiere visitor destination,
and limit economic ability.
An important aspect of sustainable
development is emphasizing community-based tourism. This
approach to tourism focuses on community involvement in
the planning and development process, and developing the
types of tourism that generates benefits to local
residents. Rhode Island’s regional tourism districts are
well suited for the development of tourism in this
respect as they represent specific communities.
Sustainable development is related
to the concept of quality tourism. This approach can
achieve successful tourism from a marketing standpoint
and it brings benefits to residents and their
environment. Quality tourism refers to attractions and
facilities and services that offer value, protect
resources and attract the kinds of visitors who will
respect the local environment.
According to the World Tourism
Organization Tourism, if not planned properly, tourism
can destroy the very resources that visitors come to
enjoy. The largest losers of this destruction will be
Rhode Island’s residents who could see their precious
landscape sold to the highest bidder.
For this reason, Rhode Island's
tourism industry must work collaboratively with
stakeholders, such as but not limited to: the University
of Rhode Island, Rhode Island’s regional tourism
districts, the Rhode Island Division of Tourism, the
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management,
Rhode Island Statewide Planning, the Rhode Island
Department of Transportation, the Rhode Island Heritage
and Historical Preservation Commission, and the Rhode
Island Legislature policy offices, to create a plan for
Rhode Island that will sustain tourism for future
generations. This planning process would be dynamic. It
could be titled: Rhode Island Sustainable Tourism
University of Rhode Island could
lead the project
This project, if accepted, could be
housed and managed at the University of Rhode Island.
This project would enhance the University’s role as a
key contributor to all communities in Rhode Island. The
RISTP, through the University, would create the plan and
direction necessary to bring tourism to a new level. A
level that will make optimal use of environmental
resources that constitute the key elements in tourism
development, while maintaining essential ecological
protection, conserve natural heritage and biodiversity;
respecting the socio-cultural authenticity; and ensure
viable, long-term economic developments, and providing
socio-economic benefits to all Rhode Islanders.
Consequently, tourism will be an instrument to create
wealth and opportunity for Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island tourism districts
and the Rhode Island Department of Tourism, who are
responsible for tourism development in Rhode Island,
have established the Rhode Island Sustainable Tourism
Development Fund. This group is now situated to begin
the process of creating sound tourism development policy
for Rhode Island.
Specifics of tourism planning:
- Establishing the overall tourism
development objectives and policies – what is
tourism aiming to accomplish and how can these aims
- Developing tourism so that its
natural and cultural resources are indefinitely
maintained and conserved for future, as well as
- Integrating tourism into the
overall development policies and patterns of the
state, and establishing close linkages between
tourism and other economic sectors.
- Providing a rational basis for
decision-making by both the public and private
sectors on tourism development.
- Making possible the coordinated
development of all the many elements of the tourism
sector. This includes inter-relating the tourist
attractions, activities, facilities and services and
the various and increasingly fragmented visitor
- Optimizing and balancing the
economic, environmental and social benefits, while
minimizing possible problems of tourism.
- Providing a physical structure,
which guides the location, types and extent of
tourism development of attractions, facilities,
services and infrastructure.
- Establishing the guidelines and
standards for preparing detailed plans of specific
tourism development areas that are consistent with,
and reinforce, one another, and for the appropriate
design of tourist facilities.
- Laying the foundation for
effective implementation of the tourism development
policy and plan and continuous management of the
tourism sector, by providing the necessary
organizational and other institutional framework.
- Providing the framework for
effective coordination of the public and private
sector efforts and investment in developing tourism.
- Offering a baseline for the
continuous monitoring of the progress of tourism
development and keeping it on track.
- Institutional elements for
effective tourism development in Rhode Island:
- Organizational structures,
especially government tourism offices and private
sector tourism associations.
- Tourism-related legislation and
regulations, such as standards and licensing
requirements for hotels and tour and travel
- Education and training programs,
and training institutions to prepare persons to work
effectively in tourism.
- Availability of financial
capital to develop tourist attractions, services and
infrastructures, and mechanisms to attract capital
- Marketing strategies and
promotion programs to inform visitors about Rhode
Island and induce them to visit, and visitor
information facilities and services in Rhode Island.
- Travel facilitation of
immigration, customs and other facilities and
services at the entry and exit points.
- Enhance and distribute the
economic benefits of tourism, environmental
protection measures, reducing adverse social
impacts, and conservation of the cultural heritage.
- Effective tourism development
must be planned in an integrated manner with all
components of the tourism system.
- Planning must be integrated with
overall development policies. If it is performed
correctly benefits will accrue to the entire
community as well as its visitors. (WTO, 2004, P.
Process Steps to be taken in the
- Study Preparation – Outputs and
establish team necessary
- Determination of the objectives
– Relate socio-economic benefits
- Survey of all elements –
Collecting data qualitative and quantitative
- Analysis and synthesis –
- Policy and plan formulation –
Set policy by evaluating various scenarios
- Formulation of institutional
recommendations – Conclusions
- Implementation and monitoring –
Insure the plan is realistic
Elements of a three to five year
- Tourism Development Objectives
- General Background and Analysis
- Infrastructure Analysis and
- Visitor Attractions and
Activities, and their improvements
- Visitor Facilities and Services
and their improvements
- Recommended Forms of tourism
- Market Analysis and Projections
- Recommended Tourism Development
Policy and structure plan
- Economic Analysis and
- Environmental Considerations and
- Socio-cultural Considerations
- Institutional (state and
regional regulations and laws) consideration and
- Markets and Promotional
- Plan Implementation and
Monitoring through the RISTP
Rhode Island’s Public Tourism
- Rhode Island Division of Tourism
- Blackstone Valley Tourism
- Block Island Tourism Council
- Providence Warwick Convention
and Visitors Bureau
- East Bay Tourism Council
- South County Tourism Council
- Newport Convention and Visitors
- Warwick Office of Tourism and
Adopted from the World Tourism
Robert Billington, Ed D.
Blackstone Valley Tourism Council Inc
175 Main St, Pawtucket RI 02860
1 800 454 2882