The quiet zone

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 6:15pm

At the Tourism Council’s Annual Meeting that was held at The Spring House on Wednesday, Sept. 26, an expert in the travel habits of American vacationers, who specializes in New England trends, brought up the subject of the internet on Block Island — or the lack thereof.

It was one of the first things that Anna Blount, of the global travel marketing agency, MMGYGlobal, mentioned in her talk. When speaking about Block Island, she said she was told: “I hear you don’t have any internet.”

This of course is not true, but the point was made. Perhaps that is the reputation Block Island has out there. During her presentation, when she was talking about who wanted to visit New England and why — breaking it down primarily between baby boomers and millenials — there was a strong indication that those people who visit New England did so precisely to unwind and get off the grid. They felt overwhelmed — Blount’s word — by the control the internet seems to have over their lives.

In that way, said Blount to the full audience, “not having wi-fi is not so bad a thing,” she said of the island. “It’s not so much of a problem.”

There is a difference, after all, between the needs of the people who live and work here year-round and those who live here seasonally, or visit for a week or so every year. It seems silly to repeat a well-known fact — Block Island is a tourist economy — but there it is.

While the needs and desires of island visitors may not change the trajectory of the broadband project that’s now underway, it’s certainly something to think about as island businesses ponder how to keep the island a destination location.