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When Rhode Island Tries to Be Reykjavik

A tourism video intended to promote the American state of Rhode Island accidentally included stock footage from Iceland.

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The tiny American state of Rhode Island doesn’t have much of an international reputation. Its capital, Providence, has a population of fewer than 200,000 people and is home to no major league sports teams. One of the state’s major claims to fame listed on its official website include hosting the first-ever circus the United States way back in 1774.

So maybe Rhode Island officials were just romanticizing the benefits of visiting their humble state when they somehow missed that the company tasked with creating a new tourism video accidentally included a scene from Iceland. The video, which cost $22,000, was commissioned by the state’s state’s economic development agency, Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, and went live on YouTube this week. The video has since been temporarily taken down.

The scene that accidentally features Reykjavik’s Harpa concert hall and conference center shows a skateboarder outside of the modern glass building on a waterfront as a narrator tells the viewer to “imagine a place that feels like home but holds enough uniqueness that you’re never bored.”

‘‘As the Commerce Corporation put this presentation video together, explicit instructions were given to the local firm that helped with editing to use only Rhode Island footage,’’ Kayla Rosen, a spokesman for the agency, said in a statement Tuesday after viewers complained about the mistake.

But was there really even a need to offer such explicit instructions? It was, afterall, a video about Rhode Island.

‘‘A mistake was made,” she added. “Once the mistake was identified, the video was removed.’’

The video is being edited and will be re-released after that scene is edited out. Hopefully whichever official previews it this time will know Rhode Island well enough to spot any errant clips.

Photo credit: MATTHEW EISMAN/Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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