Report: R.I. welcomed record number of visitors in 2022

STATE OFFICIALS ON WEDNESDAY announced the results of a third-party report that shows visitation to Rhode Island increased 5.4% between 2021 and 2022./COURTESY R.I. TOURISM DIVISION

PROVIDENCE –  A new report found Rhode Island welcomed a record 27.7 million visitors in 2022, R.I. Commerce Corp. announced Wednesday.

R.I. Commerce Corp. on Wednesday announced the findings of a new report that shows the number of visitors to the state jumped 5.4% in 2022 to a record 27.7 million people.

Based on data compiled by hospitality research consultancy Tourism Economics, the number of visitors to the state jumped 5.4% in 2022 from 2021 and spending in 2022 increased 17% from the year earlier, totaling $5.3 billion and generating $903 million in state and local tax revenue. The so-called “visitor economy” impact reached $7.9 billion, according to the report.

“Tourism helps drive economic growth by creating and maintaining jobs, supporting our small businesses and local families, proving our state is not only a great place to live and work, but visit too,” said R.I.  Secretary of Commerce Elizabeth Tanner.

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The year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2019, traveler spending reached $4.7 billion, generating $843 million in state and local taxes. While spending  actually increased statewide in 2020 to $4.9 billion, there were  21 million visitors, down from 26 million in 2019.

The largest 2022 category increase was in lodging, which grew 20% in 2022 year-over-year and accounted for 23% of total visitor spending. The higher numbers were driven partly by higher daily room rates.

One-quarter of the visitor spending, roughly $1.4 billion, was for food and beverages. Recreational spending for things like special events, sports and concerts grew 17%.

Gov. Daniel J. McKee in a Wednesday statement said the state’s tourism market is “thriving.”

“Rhode Islanders should be proud that our diverse communities are attracting visitors to experience the rich history, world-class culinary hotspots, and vibrant cultural scenes that make our state so attractive and unique,” he said.

The R.I. Commerce Corp. board of directors, which is chaired by McKee, recently approved a $220,000 contract to Ohio-based firm  to Clarity of Place Inc. to create a five-year tourism development plan.

Chief marketing officer Anika Kimble-Huntley on Wednesday said the agency “looks forward to continuing this upward trajectory of tourism and maintaining record breaking growth.”

Christopher Allen is a PBN staff writer. You may contact him at     

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