(CG) TIME NOW FOR EYEWITNESS NEWS CALL 12 FOR ACTION… TACKLING TOURISM. THE U-S TRAVEL INDUSTRY EMPLOYS MORE THAN 15- MILLION PEOPLE — AND PUMPS TRILLIONS INTO THE ECONOMY. THAT’S ACCORDING TO THE U-S TRAVEL ASSOCIATION. (SN) BUT THE TOURISM INDUSTRY SAYS IT’S FACING SEVERAL CHALLENGES. TODAY – THEY HAD LAWMAKERS’ ATTENTION IN DOWNTOWN PROVIDENCE. EYEWITNESS NEWS CONSUMER REPORTER SUSAN CAMPBELL WAS THERE AND JOINS US NOW WITH THE DETAILS. INTRO – TOURISM INSIDERS SAY THE INDUSTRY IS DOING WELL… BUT THEY SAY THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT… ESPECIALLY WITH INFRASTRUCTURE. ABOUT 2-THOUSAND PEOPLE FROM USA GYMNASTICS ARE IN PROVIDENCE FOR THE ORGANIZATION’S ANNUAL CONVENTION. THEY’LL SPEND AN ESTIMATED 2 MILLION DOLLARS WHILE THEY’RE HERE. IT’S ONE OF DOZENS OF CONVENTIONS HOSTED EVERY YEAR IN THE CITY. (Martha Sheridan) 11:44:36 the direct spending impact of those is typically around 70 or 80 million dollars annually :43 WE WENT BEHIND THE SCENES… AT THE RHODE ISLAND CONVENTION CENTER TO SEE WHAT IT TAKES TO PULL OFF THESE EVENTS… AND KEEP UP WITH VISITORS NEEDS. (Larry Lepore) 11:41:23 this past year we’ll be spending about 5.2 million through a program that the state of ri has. It’s the asset protection program. It does 2 things. It gives us the ability to get updated equipment and then allows us to operate more efficiently :41 BUT THIS IS JUST ONE SMALL SLIVER OF THE OCEAN STATE’S TOURISM INDUSTRY. langevin: 11:32:41 I know that our economy is in so many ways is dependent and thrives on tourism :49 THURSDAY – CONGRESSMEN JIM LANGEVIN AND DAVID CICILLINE TACKLED TOURISM AND TRAVEL ISSUES FACING THE INDUSTRY NATIONWIDE. Ciccilline:11:36:24 one of the big challenges we have is the state of our infrastructure in this country and in our state. ACCORDING TO THE US TRAVEL ASSOCIATION… OUTDATED AIRPORTS, CONGESTED HIGHWAYS, and BACKLOGGED MAINTENANCE AT NATIONAL PARKS ARE HINDERING ECONOMIC GROWTH. (Martha) 11:45:14 not one US airport is on the list of the top 25 airports in the world. :we need to invest more at a federal level in our aiports as well as infrastructure in general. 11:45:42 so we’re talking about how can we encourage the federal government to get an infrastructure plan out there that we can take advantage of locally here in ri. :51 OUTRO: ACCORDING TO THE RI COMMERCE CORPORATION, THE STATE’S TOTAL TRAVELER ECONOMY WAS $6.5 BILLION IN 2017… WHICH INCLUDING VISITOR SPENDING AND TOURISM-RELATED CONSTRUCTION. IF YOU HAVE A CONSUMER PROBLEM YOU NEED HELP SOLVING – CONTACT OUR CALL 12 FOR ACTION CENTER MONDAY THRU THURSDAY FROM 11 UNTIL 1 – OUR HOTLINE IS 228-1850. SUSAN CAMPBELL – EYEWITNESS NEWS.