President's Message 2019

Dale J. Venturini

Thank you for visiting the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA)! We are the official trade and educational organization that proudly represents Rhode Island’s hospitality, tourism, lodging, private club and restaurant industries.

Celebrating more than five and one-half decades of experience representing our vibrant and incredibly-important industry, we have a lot to be proud of!

With a membership of more than 800 strong, RIHA continues to be the leading voice of our industry, advocating for our members in legislative matters and in business, increasing awareness about important issues, and training our existing and emerging workforce for valuable careers in our industry.

Rhode Island’s hospitality industry by the numbers:

  • In 2017, we hosted nearly 25 million visitors, including 7.8 million overnight visitors.
  • Represents a $6.5 billion total traveler economy including visitor spending, tourism-related construction, and supporting industries.
  • Employs nearly 84,000 people, including direct, indirect and induced-impact jobs.
  • A top-five revenue generator in Rhode Island.
  • $775 million in state and local taxes generated in 2017.
  • In the absence of the visitor economy, each household in Rhode Island would need to pay $1,890 in additional taxes to make up the deficit.

We have had several tough years battling against out-of-state special interest groups that are trying to push their agenda through the legislature. This year, we successfully fought against several pieces of legislation that were incredibly damaging to our industry.

Some of the highlights include: defeating the $15 minimum wage hike and the elimination of the tipped wage. The at-will doctrine legislation, which would have prevented employers from terminating employees without a drawn-out finding of cause did not pass; a bill to increase the overtime salary threshold from $413/week to $1,036/week did not make it out of House or Senate Labor Committees; and workplace bullying and harassment bills to lower the standard for hostile work environment and open up employers to increased liability also did not move forward. In addition, we stopped legislation to prohibit online alcohol education and training arguing that it was a step backwards for industry professionals and legislation to restrict the hours that businesses with a catering liquor license could sell alcohol did not pass out of the House or Senate. The Food Safety Manager’s license was extended from three years to five years, effective July 1; and the General Assembly passed legislation to create a state-wide licensing process for food trucks.

While we are so proud of these accomplishments, there is still a lot of work to be done and what happens in the next legislative session depends on you, our members. Together, we can make a difference and ensure the vitality, strength and prominence of our industry for generations to come.

We look forward to an incredible 2019!

Dale J. Venturini