With his letter “Tourism is not the State’s salvation,” Mr. Martel has started an important discussion. While he makes a lot of good points, I think he may have the wrong impression about Gina Raimando’s tourism strategy.
Whether one supports Ms. Raimando or not, her announced tourism strategy has much to recommend it. Mr. Martel is right to say that tourism is not the silver bullet to save RI’s economy, but Ms. Raimando never said that it is or can be. She spoke of tourism as a key part of RI’s economy, along with manufacturing and services.
In Bristol, tourism keeps many of our restaurants, shops, museums and other great attractions financially healthy for the good of the entire community. Tourism works and has great benefits, but is not and never will be the full story for state or local economic development.
Our objective ought not to be to run tourism down but to build up other sectors of the economy, like the marine trades and manufacturing. As a state and town we have great natural, historic and cultural assets and resources, and we would be remiss if we did not promote them to our own advantage.
On manufacturing, Mr. Martel is right on — building things here can be both profitable and attractive. As he points out, Bristol has a great manufacturing heritage and today has a great, albeit small, manufacturing base focused on boat building, composites, machining, engineered plastics and industrial art.
As a community, we should use whatever tools and resources we have to enhance the economic vitality of local our businesses. We can bemoan the business unfriendly climate in Rhode Island and resign ourselves to economic stagnation, or we can as a community make our town more business friendly and do what we can to help make all our business successful.
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