Updated March 24 at 4:43pm

‘Tour R.I.’ expands trips to Conn., Mass.


PAWTUCKET - Blackstone Valley Tourism Council Inc. is looking to book day-trips into Massachusetts and Connecticut with a revamped tour brand, set to depart Twin River Casino on May 11.

What would have been the tenth running year of “Tour Rhode Island” has evolved into “Southern New England Discovery Tours,” bringing residents closer to the tri-state area’s cultural, historical, and natural indulgences.

It’s a prime marketing opportunity for businesses to “shine a light on their respective historic, cultural, natural and commercial attractions,” exposing potential customers to new localities and products, according to Council President Robert D. Billington.

The farther-reaching program has also led the council to widen the role of their part-time coordinator, said Billington, but not add more seasonal positions in the firm.

Instead, the council’s goal is to attract more tourists -- and therefore commerce -- to the area. “There is interest in bringing more visitors to Rhode Island using Southern New England [tours] as their destination,” Billington said in an email interview with Providence Business News.

Behind Billington’s sustainable tourism development policy lays a blend of ecology and commerce: keep the forests and beaches clean, restore notable structures and establish programs that attract sightseers. In Rhode Island, it’s multi-billion dollar industry that supports over 66,000 jobs. “Increased visitations mean increased profits if done in a sustainable way. This gets tourism destinations interested in working together,” said Billington.

BVTC is a state-assigned non-profit tourism development agency formed in 1985 by Billington to invigorate tourism in Rhode Island’s struggling mill towns within the Blackstone Valley region, including Pawtucket, Central Falls, Woonsocket, Cumberland, Lincoln, Burrillville, Glocester, Smithfield and North Smithfield.

By supporting programs and legislation that capitalized on the Blackstone region’s natural beauties and historic depth, the council opened educational and commercial avenues in a struggling, post-industrial area of the state.

“Without culture, lore, history, and natural beauty a place doesn’t really exist. It’s nowhere,” reads the council history web page.


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