Newport looking forward to summer – and tourists

Music fans fill the grounds of scenic Fort Adams on Narragansett Bay for the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, R.I. on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Joe Giblin)

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Though Newport has already had a tourism boom this summer, businesses are still looking to make money.

So far, the tourism season is off to a good start, said Jeffrey Marlowe, the owner of Bite Me Bait. The Volvo Ocean Race last month did bring in a lot of visitors early, he said Tuesday. His crucial time to bring in revenue is April through November. “It’s by far the majority of our business in that time frame.”

Since the economy is improving, Discover Newport’s Andrea McHugh figures this season will be better than last year.

“The unemployment numbers are going in the right direction. The Consumer Confidence Index is up.”

If you’ve played tourist in Newport in the past, and think you’ve seen it all, think again; there’s a lot of new things in the city by the sea, McHugh said. The International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum just unveiled a $3 million renovation — including a hologram image of Roger Federer — and the Audrain Automobile Museum has a new venue to show off its rare vehicles. There are also new city tours for foodies, as well as new restaurants, and the Marriott hotel also just finished a $39 million renovation.

Newport typically brings in $700 million in tourism dollars every year, McHugh said.

“We come at least twice a year,” said Betty Agin, who was visiting from New Jersey. “My birthday in November, and in March for Restaurant Week. Even off-season, there’s so much to do. We love it.”

“Of course, there’s bed taxes and food and beverage taxes, as well as mooring fees,” McHugh said. A great season for Newport benefits everyone in the city, and ultimately the state.

Discover Newport says its summer tourism season lasts through Columbus Day, Oct. 12.