Tourism Council looks forward to a busy season
The Tourism Council met at the town hall on a sunny, but still very cold March morning on Tuesday, March 18. Despite the chill in the air, the talk was of summer and what will hopefully be a busy tourist season.
The discussion centered on the budget and new efforts the council is doing to promote tourism for the upcoming season.
According to Tourism Councilor Executive Director Jessica Willi, the council is reporting $260,000 in revenue for this year, while anticipated expenses will run close to $300,000. The $40,000 shortfall will be made up for by dipping into a reserve fund. It was explained at the meeting and later in an email from Willi that, “We would not have normally proposed such an expense-heavy budget, but due to prudent budgeting the past few years, in addition to better than expected hotel tax revenues, we feel that we are in a good position to do this.”
Willi also said in the email that the majority of the expenses will be for advertising and promotion for the island. There is also money earmarked to hire an assistant. The remaining portions of the budget will go toward administrative costs and the annual contribution to the Chamber of Commerce, which runs the Welcome Center.
The Tourism Council, in the past several years, has provided $25,000 to the Chamber, with no restrictions on how to spend it. This year, that allocation was readjusted to $20,000 in unrestricted funds and $7,000 for specific one-time Chamber projects.
The Tourism Council also slated $5,000 for community support, up from $4,500 last year. Community support is for such events as the popular Glass Float Project and the Police Department’s new Locks and Lights program that will supply bike locks and reflective lights to those who need them this summer.
The council approved the budget by a 6 to 1 vote. Steve Filippi was the lone dissenter. He felt that the council was short-changing the Chamber and that the Tourism Council shouldn’t specify how the funds should be spent.
As for new things the Tourism Council is doing to promote business, the latest edition of the Tourism Council’s yearly magazine was revealed. The new magazine, “Block Island: Close to Home, A World Away,” is filled with bold, bright photography. In addition to information on what trails to hike, shops to visit, places to eat and where to stay, there are also some charming essays.
The yearly publication, produced jointly by the Block Island Tourism Council and The Block Island Times, was published in time for the AAA Travel Market convention, which takes place at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., every year. Willi attended the travel show. To save on costs, Block Island shared a booth with two other regions in the state and, according to Willi, “Block Island was definitely the most popular.”