Do offshore wind farms harm tourism?

Offshore wind has only recently arrived in the U.S. But from what is known so far, there is no reason to fear that it puts tourists off visiting the ocean. For some, it might even make that beach trip more interesting.


Does offshore wind deter tourists from visiting the coast?


Very few tourists are put off by seeing an offshore wind farm on the horizon. Some even see it as a good reason to visit the area.

Offshore wind could be a reason to hit the beach

Sun, sea, sand, and somewhere out there on the horizon, the wind turbines that are generating reliable clean energy for the local area. The sight of an offshore wind turbine adds something different to your average trip to the ocean.

For a few, it might be a reason to consider going elsewhere. For others, offshore wind is the reason they’re visiting in the first place.

But from what we know from the research available, there’s no reason to believe that offshore wind harms coastal tourism.1

Do offshore wind farms harm tourism?

Study shows little concern from beachgoers

Recent research from the University of Delaware shows that when it comes to offshore wind and beach experience, distance is everything. Only one in ten beachgoers said the presence of an offshore wind farm 20 miles from the shore would detract from their beach experience.2

Ocean Wind 1 will be 15 miles from the shore, so we should expect the vast majority of beachgoers in the area to feel that their beach experience is unaffected.

Case study:
Tourism uplift on Block Island

Location of Block Island offshore wind farm, Rhode Island
Block Island offshore wind farm
  • Construction began in 2015
  • In operation since 2016
  • 5 turbines
  • 3 miles southeast of Block Island, RI
  • America’s first offshore wind farm

America’s first offshore wind farm was constructed just three miles from the shore, off Block Island, Rhode Island. Consisting of five turbines, it began commercial operation in 2016, helping end the island’s dependence on diesel generators for power. It is owned and operated by Ørsted.

Around the time of Block Island Wind Farm’s construction, researchers from Rhode Island University made the first and so far only study on the real impact of offshore wind on the U.S. tourism industry. They analysed AirBnB rental data before and after construction, comparing it to rental trends in nearby communities out of sight of the wind farm.

The overall findings showed no noticeable effect on demand for holiday rentals after the wind farm was built – except for in July and August 2017 where Block Island experienced 19% higher occupancy rates than the other areas in the study.

It is not known whether this uplift can be explained by visitors curious to see the new wind farm. But as the only case to be studied in the U.S. so far, the findings are reassuring for coastal communities awaiting the arrival of offshore wind – especially since wind farms like Ocean Wind 1 will be located much further from the shore.

What is offshore wind power?
What is offshore wind power?

Offshore wind power explained

How we capture the power of the wind at sea to produce clean, reliable electricity