A Salve Regina University study commissioned by the Rhode Island Hospitality Association on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the state’s hospitality and tourism industry in 2020 reveals a loss of $2.2 billion last year, representing a 30% overall drop from the previous year.
“Rhode Island’s hospitality industry was one of the hardest-hit industries in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dale J. Venturini, president and CEO of the Hospitality Association, said in a prepared statement. “Our membership of hoteliers, restaurants and attractions were extremely transparent on overall loss of business, but this study further illustrates the magnitude of the financial impact to the third-largest industry in RI.”
The study was completed by students enrolled in Salve business professor Samuel Sacco’s Introduction to Econometrics Class. It was facilitated by Stacey Carter, strategic partnership officer at Salve, and Missy Varao, chair of the university’s department of business and economics.
It examined the statewide impacts across each of the industry’s four sectors, including food and beverage; events and meetings; lodging; and tourism and attractions. The researchers calculated the direct, indirect and induced monetary effects of the pandemic in Bristol, Kent, Newport, Providence and Washington counties.
“The students identified closely with this study,” Sacco said. “They’ve experienced the impacts of the COVID pandemic as it has affected their college routines, personal lives and, in many cases, part-time employment income. The class found it interesting to correlate quantitative impacts of COVID to their own life experiences. I’m proud of their efforts to produce a quality economic impact study in an uncertain learning environment.”
Other key findings from the study include:
• Lodging, meetings and events, and tourism and attractions were most significantly impacted, with decreases typically ranging between 40% and 60%.
• Foodservices demonstrated a more moderate impact, with 2020 decreases ranging from 5% to 25%.
• Newport and Providence counties each had overall hospitality and tourism revenue declines exceeding 35% in 2020 compared to 2019, with substantial revenue reductions also demonstrated by Bristol (13% decrease), Kent (31%) and Washington (30%) counties.
• Jobs in the industry also demonstrated comparable decreases in 2020 compared to 2019 due to the impacts of COVID-19.
In previous years, Sacco’s Introduction to Econometrics classes have completed economic impact studies for Newport’s famed Cliff Walk, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, Salve Regina University, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Bicentennial Park, Fall River, Mass. and for five U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare and Surface Warfare Centers located throughout the country.