By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on September 1, 2020
(Dare County Tourism Board)
The June occupancy and meals data released by OBX Visitors Bureau Executive Director Lee Nettles in his recap of the Dare County Tourism Board’s August meeting provides additional empirical evidence that since the county re-opened for visitors on May 16, tourism here has been booming.
When it came to occupancy collections, not only did the June 2020 numbers of almost $103.5 million represent a 1.4% increase over last June, they also established an overall occupancy revenue record for any June, according to Nettles. Still, given the impact of the COVID-19-induced shutdown of the county earlier in 2020, year-to-date occupancy collections are down 17% over 2019.
The June numbers on meal collections are clearly affected by the fact that under current COVID-19 restrictions, restaurant capacity for indoor dining is capped at 50% — although takeout business may be more robust for a number of establishments. But even with that significant constraint, June meal collections — at about $35.4 million — are down only 10% from June 2019, Nettles said. (By way of comparison, the May 2020 meal collections were only about half of what they were in May 2019.) For the year-to-date, however, those meal collections are down 33% from 2019.
In the video releasing the numbers, Nettles said that the data strongly suggest that, “What we see is a lot of demand for the Outer Banks and what we believe is being perceived as a safer vacation alternative…So safety continues to be first and foremost in people’s minds.”