FULL SAIL: Team Alvimedica’s vessel arrives in Newport in June. Having Charlie Enright of Bristol on Team Alvimedica as the hometown American in the race has added to the local attraction, according to Sail Newport’s Brad Read.
Still 11 months away, the Volvo Ocean Race has captured 4,500 nights of lodging already – a growing number not only in Newport County, where the race will makes its stopover, but in Providence as well.
Primarily for the tail end of the race’s Rhode Island visit set for May 5-17, 2015, those room reservations include 3,000 under contract in the Newport area and 1,500 in Providence, said Laurie Z. Stroll, president and owner of Newport Hospitality, a destination-marketing firm booking reservations in partnership with Sweden’s Hansen Event & Conference, a travel agency appointed by Volvo.
“Rhode Island is the venue for the Volvo,” enthused Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport, referring to those numbers. “This is a global event, and we’re seeing the uptick in hotel-room reservations in Providence as a sure-fire proof of that. It’s not just a Newport County event.”
According to Stroll, the 1,500 nights do not include other “blocks” of hotel rooms that are on hold in Providence pending review and signing of other contracts. But most of the 4,500 nightly stays are for the Volvo customers who not only will be taking in the race but participating in promotional events surrounding the Volvo brand and products, she said.
In addition to Volvo Cars, the Volvo Group includes divisions for trucks, construction equipment, financial services and other products, she said.
“As far as Volvo is concerned, they want to paint the state ‘Volvo,’ because it’s not just Newport,” Stroll said.
The international sailing race starts Oct. 4 in Alicante, Spain, and finishes in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 27, 2015. Newport’s stopover from May 5-17 is the only North American respite of the entire race. The last weekend will focus on an in-port race on Saturday, May 16, and the beginning of the next leg of the journey to Lisbon on Sunday, May 17.
A new, 240-foot pier at Fort Adams State Park enables the yachts to dock there, and Fort Adams will become Volvo Ocean Race Village during the stopover, featuring product demonstrations, marketing pavilions and other activities, said Read and Stroll.
The new pier will be ready by February, Read said.
After an absence of nearly 30 years, the return to Rhode Island in 2012 of another premier event, the America’s Cup World Series races, produced an economic impact of $38 million for businesses in the state, $12 million for 345 jobs and $2.5 million in general state tax revenue, according to a report generated last year by the predecessor to the R.I. Commerce Corporation.