Gov. Lincoln Chafee said he doesn’t believe that the higher state beach fees set to go into effect July 1 will hurt tourism.
The governor spoke as part of a roundtable discussion with Patch staffers held on June 23 at the State House.
“The beach fee increases still keep us lower than some of the town beaches,” Chafee explained, “and that hasn’t discouraged the town beaches from being used.”
Beginning this Friday, the cost for season passes for Rhode Island residents will double to $60; weekday parking will go up from $6 to $10, weekend fees from $7 to $14.
Out-of-state visitors will pay $20 for weekday parking (up from the current $12 fee) and $28 for weekends (previously $14), with the charge for non-resident season passes rising to $120 from its current $60.
At the town-owned Sandy Point Beach, the current fee is free for all residents and, for non-residents, $7 during the week, $12 on weekends and $50 for the season.
In Island Park, only street parking is available for the state-run Teddy's Beach, but parking is free for all visitors.
Chafee also said that state has “the most gorgeous beaches anywhere,” which he feels will still draw their share of tourists.
On the general topic of tourism, Chafee said he feels that local tourism councils should share a common message about the state as a whole — while still preserving their abilities to promote their own communities.
“One of the challenges on tourism is, in Rhode Island, we’ve Balkanized the tourism councils,” Chafee explained. “They’re all marketing Rhode Island a little differently.”
The governor also said it was his “personal goal” to try and unify the message among the local groups.
“They’re all going to market their districts a little bit differently, but also include some kind of generic marketing scheme for the state,” Chafee explained. “Just to convince them that we need to have an overall scheme for Rhode Island included in all their marketing is in everybody’s best interest.”