Discover Newport asks every tourist who enters its visitor center what state they’re from, and over the past 30 years the answers have been surprisingly consistent: in a typical year, about 60% of Newport’s visitors come from Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut. and New Jersey.
Most of these visitors – 90% of Newport tourists – arrive by car. And despite record high gas station prices this summer, Discover Newport CEO and CEO Evan Smith expects most of them to return.
“I saw high gas prices three or four times in the last 33 years… (the first time) we thought it would be bad, but Newport is fine with gas prices going up because people stay closer to home.” Smith said.
He continued, “While $5 a gallon is a record price that will be a deal breaker for some, it’s not the main factor we fear this summer.”
Smith doesn’t think gas prices will cause people to cancel scheduled trips to Newport, but indicated that they could affect people’s travel budgets in other ways. He said Discover Newport will look this summer to see if travelers want to save money in other areas, such as accommodations or eating out, to offset higher fuel prices.
Mark Shielddrop, AAA Northeast public relations specialist, echoed Smith’s sentiment.
“We have interviewed our participants and while high gas prices may affect plans, people will not cancel trips. People will try to save money in other ways — housing, food, souvenirs,” said Shildrop.
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Shielddrop also mentioned that AAA, after seeing data from Memorial Day weekend, which was the strongest since 2019, predicted a record-breaking weekend of car travel this July 4th, with an estimated 42 million Americans going somewhere to celebrate Memorial Day. independence.
This perception of increased traffic and demand for fuel even amid high prices is supported by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Traffic Tracking on the Newport Pell Bridge, which counted 949,818 transactions in May 2022, nearly 50,000 more than last year. . , and about 20,000 fewer than before the 2019 pandemic.
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Speaking specifically to Newport, Shielddrop predicted a strong tourist season in part due to the city’s “diverse and comprehensive array of tourism opportunities”, citing clustered opportunities to hit the beach, sample fine dining, explore the city’s rich history and attend unique events. such as music festivals and sailing competitions as a rare combination that consistently keeps Newport’s tourism demand strong regardless of economic factors.
Megan Erbes, director of communications for the International Tennis Hall of Fame, seemed to echo the sentiment, saying, “We haven’t noticed any negative impact on ticket sales, so…