Myrna George
South County Tourism Council
4808 Tower Hill Road, Suite 101
Wakefield, RI 02879

Perry Raso receives RI Tourism Award

Each year, the South County Tourism Council nominates an individual, business or organization to be recognized with the Governor’s Tourism Achievement Award at the Annual Rhode Island Tourism Unity Luncheon.

This year's South County honoree was Perry Raso, of the Matunuck Oyster Bar and Matunuck Oyster Farm. The luncheon on Wednesday, May 11 at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick also recognized others from around the state.

The 26th Annual Rhode Island Tourism Unity Luncheon welcomed more than 400 tourism and hospitality industry professionals statewide. The luncheon was the highlight of the state’s celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week (May 7-15), recognized nationwide with myriad localized events in cities, states and travel businesses nationwide to champion the power of travel, according to the Visitor's Bureau.

SCTC President Myrna George presented the “Tourism Works for Rhode Island” Award for 2011 to Raso. The theme of the 2011 luncheon was “Partnerships & Collaborations” celebrating individuals and entities which spearhead cooperative efforts to promote local tourism and the hospitality industry.

Raso, a University of Rhode Island graduate, started the Matunuck Oyster Farm nine years ago, tending the seven-acre oyster farm year round. He forged partnerships with URI, guiding a Coastal Fellows student each year. Two years ago, Raso bought a commercial piece of land with a restaurant adjacent to his oyster farm.

The oyster farmer became a restaurateur. “The way the economy was that year, I got a lot of advice not to open it,” Raso said.

Today, the Matunuck Oyster Bar is one of the busiest seafood restaurants in South County. Due to his success, Raso has expanded the dining room and patio to accommodate more patrons.

While most diners appreciate fresh seafood, Raso offers his customers a chance to see the oysters before they reach the plate. Sixty pairs of waders are available year-round to visitors. They can don the fishing garb and wade into Potter Pond from the oyster bar’s patio for a guided tour of the farm. During the tour, they can harvest the oysters for their meal at Matunuck Oyster Bar.

The South County Tourism Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the towns of Charlestown, Coventry, East Greenwich, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Richmond, South Kingstown, West Greenwich and Westerly as a leisure travel destination. For more information, please visit