Newport mansions gave more than one million tours in 2016

Steph Machado | WPRI-TV

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — The City by the Sea’s historic mansions have set a record, giving more than one million tours in 2016, according to the mansion’s operators, the Preservation Society of Newport County. The Newport Mansions, as a unit, are the first museum in New England outside of Boston to reach that milestone.

“This milestone is evidence of the tremendous growth potential for tourism in Rhode Island,” said the state’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lara Salamano, at Tuesday morning’s announcement at The Breakers, the largest of the ten mansion properties.

Here’s the tally: From January 1 through December 31, 2016, the Society gave 1,019,983 tours of its 10 historic properties.

The society says they were able to surpass the million-tour mark by innovations that included making some houses, including The Breakers, open for visitors year-round, as well as investing in digital technology and marketing.

Salamano said it is critical for the state to partner with entities in the private sector to invest in Rhode Island tourism.

William Corcoran, Jr., the owner of Newport Tent Company, added in The Society’s statement that the mansions create hundreds of jobs for the private sector — from event tents from companies like his, to caterers and musicians.

The Society said visitors in 2016 represented all 50 states and some 114 countries — and surveys show 40 percent of visitors come back for repeat visits.