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

South County Tourism Council celebrates 25th anniversary at Ocean House reception

Twenty-five years ago the South County Tourism Council (SCTC) was launched with a simple brochure boasting of the area’s natural beauty.

“There are a few people who actually prefer the peace and quiet and natural beauty here,” it said, a sentiment that still rings true.

To celebrate the milestone of 25 years of promoting South County, SCTC hosted a reception at the Ocean House, a Watch Hill landmark that showcased the best South County has to offer.

SCTC President Myrna George opened the reception with praise for the three founders of the council, Joan Abrams, Jack Gaines and Gil Wallander.

Singling out Wallander, who recently passed away, George praised his foresight. “His vision of a vibrant tourism economy throughout South County is manifest today. The results have been stunning.”

Tourism is now the second largest economic engine in the state. “Over $1,400 per year in local property taxes are not paid by property owners each year because of tourism,” George said. “That’s how much we can contribute to Rhode Island.”

The industry has undergone many changes over the years. “During these past 25 years, we’ve gotten fresh!” George said. “We have weathered cries for ‘transparency,’ and the tourism industry has been transformed. Today, glad-handing has been replaced with guidelines. Leaders in tourism increasingly come from beyond the bureau world, a real change from a decade ago. Ethics are in, egos are out.”

Tourism leaders of today share a competitive nature, a passion of their product and a clear understanding that today’s business environment calls for positive innovation and positive action, George detailed. “These leaders are ushering in a new age for the tourism industry, where the ledger books are wide open and the red carpet is unfurling for visitors.”

A video featuring footage and photos of South County highlighted the natural beauty of the area, from the beaches, parks and farms that comprise the area.

“My wife and I loved the slide show,” said Charlestown Town Councilman Dan Slattery. “It really focused on the beauty of South County.  When we made our decision to retire from the Washington, DC area five years ago it was the beauty of South County that influenced our decision to retire here.”

U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Jim Langevin as well as state Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy sent citations praising SCTC.

SCTC recognized Larry Mouradjian, Associate Director of Natural Resources at DEM, for his efforts managing the thousands of acres of state land in South County, which attracts tourists to the scenic area.

SCTC has been recognized by its peers, the North American Travel Journalists Association recently awarded South County Style Vacation Planner the Gold in the 2010 annual awards competition in the Visitors’ Guide – Marketing Budget Less than $400,000 category.

The latest in technology is used to promote the area, with a mobile website and QR code that can be accessed with smartphones which brings users directly to the SCTC website.

SCTC board member Andy Nota said his position on the council is one that is “beneficial” in that he resides in Narragansett but also presides over South Kingstown in an official capacity.  “In Narragansett and South Kingstown the businesses benefit enormously from two months in the summer,” Nota said. “The council focuses on marketing (the region) beyond Rhode Island, out to the world really, in select niche markets.”

Debra Kelso, director of the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce, praised SCTC for its efforts. “We rely as a chamber on the efforts of the South County Tourism Council to bring (tourists) to us so we can take care of them.”

Collaborations with DEM, and local communities are vital to the success of SCTC and tourism in our area, noted George. “Working together truly makes great things happen!”

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