How Has the Block Island Wind Farm Affected Tourism and Recreation?

This question was supplied by the ‘Ask the Experts’ database managers.

Reviewed by: Dr. David Bidwell 

Last Update: April 23rd, 2020

The Ask the Experts database managers conducted an interview with Dr. David Bidwell (Assistant Professor of Marine Affairs) to summarize the findings of a URI study that analyzes the effects of the Block Island Wind Farm on Rhode Island recreation and tourism.

Dr. Bidwell explains that questions have arisen as to whether the Block Island Wind Farm is increasing tourism or not. He explains that the majority of reports in his research would lead him to believe that due to the fact that the Block Island Wind Farm is the first offshore wind farm in the United States and can be categorized as both novel and new, that there are certainly a select group of individuals that travel to Block Island solely to see the wind farm. However, most people speak about the wind farm as an “enhancement to the current tourism or recreation experience”.

Bidwell then goes on to give specific examples of how the wind farm can serve as an enhancement to a multitude of ocean users, explaining that boaters may be interested and will want to get a closer look, or fishermen will attempt to use it as a new fishing location. Compared to the island’s other attractions which include sandy beaches, restaurants, and bars, the wind farm can be described as an extra experience to visiting the area but certainly not a defining factor.

Read the study