Representative Lauren H. Carson (D-District 75, Newport), as chairwoman of a House commission studying the potential for growing tourism through a coordinated marketing effort, has sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor thanking him for recently meeting with the commission and seeking further information about the recently launched statewide tourism campaign.

Representative Carson requested several specifics about the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation’s tourism campaign so far, including:

  • Copies of digital banners and billboards, as well as ad placement dates and locations and any metrics used to measure effectiveness.
  • The data and responses of the 1,800 people (in state and out of state) that were tested on the logo.
  • A financial accounting of Commerce Corporation’s tourism budget and expenditures from July 1, 2015, to the present.
  • The criteria and objective metrics the Commerce Corporation used in selecting its consultants.
  • The bid log for receipt of proposals for potential consultants.
  • The contract and severance agreement with Betsy Wall.
  • The cancellation letter for the contract with Havas, and any other tourism contract cancellation letters.

“It is my belief that it is the right of this commission to have access to the information that is the basis of the statewide tourism and branding campaign in an oversight capacity,” Chairwoman Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) wrote in the letter.

The commission last month issued an interim status report that registered its concerns about the process leading up to the state’s recent rollout of a new statewide tourism promotional campaign, and indicated that it is looking forward to better communication and collaboration during its implementation. In particular, the commission raised concerns about a lack of communication with and inclusion of the state’s regional tourism councils in the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation’s development of the campaign.

In her letter, dated May 6, Chairwoman Carson said, “An open and transparent dialogue in the spirit of collaboration is the way this can move forward successfully. Your increased collaboration with the tourism regions and industry stakeholders is promising.” 

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