Have you seen the “Fun-Sized” promotional videos that the state Commerce Corp. is crediting with an up-tick in tourism? You can watch all 14 videos, here, pretty quickly, because each is only 10 seconds long or so.
Each one starts close in on people doing something fun and then quickly zooms out so the viewer can see that it’s all happening in close proximity to other things. The idea is clever, and the idea of being able to enjoy a variety of activities across a small state is compelling, for some kinds of vacationers. Still, the cumulative effect gives the sense that Rhode Island isn’t so much a small state as a large, loosely coordinated resort.
I’m not saying that’s necessarily bad. I’m not sure how I feel about it, when it comes to promoting tourism.
As a cynical small-government conservative in the Ocean State, though, I’m inclined to dislike the impression on grounds of political philosophy, though. A resort, after all, tends to be more-tightly coordinated, run by a central authority. To the extent that the “resort area” is part of the appeal, they’re explicitly catering to customers of the resort. If Rhode Island is a resort, then the central powers are the driving force.
And of course, there’s the point I’ve made before. A key reason Rhode Island has such diversity of aesthetics around the state is the independence individuals used to have to define their neighborhoods. The more we centralize power and concern ourselves with the minute affairs of people who live in other towns and attempt to redistribute wealth from one area to others, the less that diversity will characterize our state.