Celebrating more than 60 years of representing our vibrant and economically important industry, the Rhode Island Hospitality Association (RIHA) is the official trade and educational organization of Rhode Island’s hospitality, tourism, lodging, private club and restaurant industries.
With 2020 firmly in the rearview mirror, I speak for our entire industry when I say we are collectively grateful to have navigated the toughest period of time in our industry’s history. I am so proud of the hospitality community - you have proven how resilient, adaptive and tough you are.
Together, we weathered the emerging COVID-19 virus and faced a complete shutdown of our industry. However, amid fear and uncertainty, we sat at the brainstorming table with the governor’s office, Rhode Island Commerce and the RI Department of Health to find solutions for restaurants to operate through takeout and alcohol-to-go while simultaneously creating a fund to help support our displaced workers. At the same time, RIHA worked closely with the many hotels in Rhode Island and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) to help source critically needed grants such as Commerce RI’s Rhode Island Hotel, Arts & Tourism (HArT) Recovery Grant.
Outdoor dining opened up and we found new ways to expand this valuable revenue stream as restaurateurs ingeniously converted available outdoor space into dining areas. We brought best practices from across the nation into RI to institute safety policies to allow a slow, gradual and safe reopening across our industry. When we were finally open without restrictions, we found ways to educate and attract workers to help alleviate critical staffing shortages.
RIHA’s advocacy spanned many areas from important legislation including alcohol-to-go, to our nationally-recognized #BYOBlanket campaign, to offering free membership to ALL Rhode Island-based hospitality businesses along with online training and education courses, to the creation of a new jobs website (www.rihospitalityjobs.org), and our ‘Please Be Kind’ to workers campaign that has made national headlines in The New York Times and The Washington Post.
We are proud to be the leading voice of our industry, advocating for our 800+ members in important legislative matters and working hard to create an equitable business climate. Together, we can and will make a difference to ensure the vitality, strength and prominence of our industry for years to come.
Wishing you brighter and successful days ahead.
Dale J. Venturini