A recent study conducted by the University of Rhode Island suggests there has been an increase in tourism since construction of the Block Island Wind Farm was completed two years ago. TYLER WHEATLEY PHOTO

Study: Tourism increased at nation’s first wind farm

Reasons linked to curiosity trips, sustainability of boon unknown

A University of Rhode Island study released this summer suggests Block Island, home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm, has seen a boost in tourism since the end of the project’s construction in 2017. However, the report also says the reasons for and the sustainability of the increase are unknown.

Conducted by Corey Lang, URI associate professor of environmental economics, and doctoral student Andrew Carr-Harris, the study said many coastal communities relying on tourism to sustain their economy have worried that offshore wind farms would negatively affect tourism.

“It’s a common argument for pushback against siting offshore wind, but there isn’t a lot of empirical evidence about it one way or the other,” said Lang, in a press release when the study was released in May. “There have been surveys done assessing how tourists might feel about it, based on potential images of turbines in offshore waters, but those are hypothetical.”

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