PRETTY AS A PICTURE: While Rhode Island does not have a travel-industry reputation for vibrant fall foliage, this photo of Nonquit Pond in Tiverton from last October shows it has autumn beauty to match New England neighbors.
PBN PHOTO/BUTCH LOMBARDI
LEAVES OF CHANGE: A 2011 photo showing the bright foliage outside of Don’s Art Shop on Main Street in Warren.
September typically begins a strong fall tourism season, from Newport to Providence and the Blackstone Valley, say local tourism leaders. But even though the Ocean State also has plenty of woodlands, hills and scenic routes, fall-foliage tours are not part of the draw here the way they are in other New England states.
A 2010 list that continues to draw online attention of the top 25 foliage towns in New England published on yankeefoliage.com, Yankee magazine’s spinoff website, doesn’t include any Rhode Island stops.
Rhode Island is promoted in fall-foliage marketing through the six-state partnership Discover New England, which has representatives in the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, says state Tourism Director Mark Brodeur.
But rather than focusing specifically on the changing leaves as a marketing draw, Rhode Island tourism leaders try to make the most of what the state has to offer through marketing of autumn events, landscapes, and wine and food specialties of the season that encourage visitors to spend their tourism dollars.
“We know New England is branded as the place for fall foliage, and fall is a popular time for international tourists to come here,” Brodeur said. “The international consumer is looking for an ‘authentic’ experience. That’s what Rhode Island offers them in the fall with the foliage, typical New England inns or bed-and-breakfasts, specialties like clam cakes and chowder, and so many great chefs offering all kinds of wonderful, local food.”
The Ocean State is marketed aggressively, but not individually, through Discover New England, he said.
“Rhode Island is promoted as part of a New England trip, and we’re on the itinerary,” said Brodeur. “The average international tourist goes to two-and-a-half states, so it makes sense that they fly into New York or Boston.”
While it would be good to have a foliage stop in Rhode Island, the trend in marketing efforts has been to diversify, rather than narrowly focus on, offerings around the state, such as the emerging wine industry, to lengthen the tourism season, said Brodeur.
Making the multistate marketing collaboration even more critical is that the smallest state has a small state tourism budget and staff, said Brodeur.