By Outer Banks Voice on October 9, 2021
A study commissioned by the North Carolina Tourism Office finds that during the pandemic year of 2020, Dare County’s tourism revenue was far less affected than other major tourist destinations in the state. According to the Oct. 8 release from the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, tourism spending here declined only 2.2% in 2020, a year in which the statewide drop is tourism dollars was 31.7%.
Visitors were prohibited from entering Dare County for two months — from mid-March to mid-May of 2020. Since the county re-opened, it has experienced a tourism boom that has in some cases, been record setting.
The very modest 2.2% Dare County decline is far below the other three North Carolina counties that are ranked ahead of it as tourism destinations —Mecklenburg (-51%), Wake (-42.6%) and Buncombe (-34.9%). According to the release, a “more comprehensive methodology” that was used this year puts Dare County’s total tourism spending at $1.4 billion annually.
“It was one of the most challenging years we’ve ever faced on the Outer Banks,” explains Lee Nettles, Executive Director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. “For our local tourism industry to accomplish what it did, despite the closure, state-mandated capacity limits and the operational changes forced by a global pandemic is nothing short of remarkable. It’s a tribute to the popularity of the Outer Banks and a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of our local tourism partners.”
The study also reported 11,803 tourism-related jobs in Dare, which is nearly a third of the county’s population. Local tourism and visitor spending generated $123 million in state and local tax revenue. These statistics come from the “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2020,” which can be accessed at partners.visitnc.com/economic-impact-studies. The study was prepared by Tourism Economics in collaboration with the U.S. Travel Association.