Dare County’s 2023 meals and collections numbers up modestly over 2022

By on February 27, 2024

tourism recap - occupancy
tourism recap - meals
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tourism recap - meals
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The full-year 2023 numbers for occupancy and meals collections in Dare County were up slightly compared with the previous year, according to data presented on Feb. 19 by Outer Banks Visitors Bureau Executive Director Lee Nettles.

Overall, 2023 occupancy collections increased by 1.4% while meals collections were up by 4.4%. Both numbers pretty closely align with the overall 2023 U.S. inflation rate of 3.1%.

In his presentation, Nettles characterized the 1.4% increase in occupancy collections as “very slow growth,” but also noted the boom in collections in recent years.

The 2023 annual numbers are down from the 2022 annual tally, which was up 5.60% over 2021 in occupancy collections and up 5.81% over 2021 in meals collections. To put that in context, however, the 2021 numbers reflect the intense tourism explosion that year, coinciding with the COVID pandemic. The 2021 occupancy collections were up a whopping 61% over the previous year’s total while meals collections increased by a nearly equally stunning 49%.

Managing the growth of tourism is a major goals of the Long Range Tourism Management Plan special committee that will hold its second meeting on March 13 at 9 a.m. at the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau administrative offices in Manteo.

The committee members are: Dennis Robinson, Midgett Realty; Mark Ballog, Lucky 12 Tavern; Jessica Barnes, Outer Banks Forever; Karen Brown, Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce; Tim Cafferty. Outer Banks Blue; Shannon Castillo, Dare Schools; Julie Chisholm, Hilton Garden Inn; Nick Graham, Standard Insurance and Realty; David Hallac, National Park Service; Natalie Kavanagh, Frisco Rod & Gun; Elizabeth Morey, Town of Southern Shores; Lee Nettles, Outer Banks Visitors Bureau;  Reid Corbett, Coastal Studies Institute; Donna Creef, OBAR; Augusta Feldmann, KPMG; Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy, Coastland Times; Bobby Outten, Dare County; Mike Remige, Jennette’s Pier; Chris Sawin, Outer Banks Community Foundation; Ronnie Sloan, Outer Banks Health; Tim Sweeney, COA-Dare campus; Chris Vlahos, Barefoot Bernie’s.



  • Runaway Train

    The Dare County Tourism Board also known as the Outer Banks Visitor Bureau has one goal above everything else and that is to increase tourism. They are like a runaway train with no controls.

    Nettles knows that continued growth is not popular with residents of Dare County so he uses annual average statistics to try to downplay the amount of growth we have been experiencing. The annual averages include the ups and downs of the off season months that wash out the high months. The month that really matters is July. That is the month that we are all pushed past of limits with tourists.

    Nettles says “Overall, 2023 occupancy collections increased by 1.4%” but the July occupancy collections increased by 5.8%. The year before the July occupancy numbers increase 27.4%. The July occupancy numbers have doubled in the past ten years.

    In a May 18, 2022 article in the OBV titled “Lee Nettles on plans to manage OBX’s exploding visitor business” Nettles said; “The level of visitation that we’ve had in the last year and a half [meaning 2020 and 2021] is not necessarily sustainable,” he said, “particularly when you combine it with a limited workforce and some of the other challenges we’ve got…There’s a price for that growth.”

    Two years ago he said they were planning to manage OBX’s exploding visitor business. They would start a task force and get nicer tourists. Now two years later after he said that growth was not necessarily sustainable the July occupancy numbers have increased 35%.

    We are already overbuilt but the tourism board wants to keep on building. Their most recent brainstorm to fix the problem was to burn down Pamlico Jacks so they can build a conference center and hotel to bring in even more tourists.

    Dare County is made up of barrier islands that are eroding away. We are not even able to provide basic services for the residents. The situation is definitely not sustainable. The worse part is, all of us are on this runaway train with Mr. Nettles as the conductor and there does not seem to be much we can do about it.

    Tuesday, Feb 27 @ 4:50 pm
  • WindyBill

    Occupancy speaks for itself. Given a normal yearly price increse, it looks like less nights rented. Gee, why? That meals had an increase does surprise me. Purely external cause there. The health industries huge yearly cost increases are sucking everyone but the rich dry. Why doesn’t Congress act harder on this. Simply because according to Trumps’ Supreme Court, there is no limits on ‘Campaign Contributions’.

    Tuesday, Feb 27 @ 5:26 pm
  • Steven

    He is leading the train on a suicide mission.

    We need to bring a lawsuit against him and the board.

    Tuesday, Feb 27 @ 6:08 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Steven, please gives me a warning if you ever post a comment that says something nice about Dare County or anybody who performs any official functions for the county. It might be too much for my ticker.

    Tuesday, Feb 27 @ 8:55 pm
  • Charles

    Mark – now that was funny

    Well played

    Wednesday, Feb 28 @ 6:46 am
  • Steven

    Here is goes Mark, five days a week I have direct interaction with Dare County employees, the ones that run various day-to-day operations, they have always been helpful and pleasant.

    It’s the special interest groups and so called leaders that I have a problem with, they do not have the County’s best interests in mind, and certainly not residents or communities.
    They are the root cause as to why we are at a crisis point and offer zero solutions and take zero responsibility for their actions.

    I will always have a beef with these destructive entities fueled by greed..

    Wednesday, Feb 28 @ 9:41 am
  • Steven

    Here’s an example, this past Sunday I attended the funeral service for Justin O’Neill. The family is still in the dark as to cause of death and what happened.
    Had to lay their child, their father to rest, yet without any reasoning as to why.
    A deliberate decision by the powers that be.
    That’s appalling..

    Wednesday, Feb 28 @ 10:13 am
  • Steven

    Mark, I have posted positive but it was not accepted for some reason.
    Ne was the article about Captain Richard Ethridge of Pea Island LifeSaving Station. The fact that he is celebrated every year at Chicamacomico LifeSaving Station, and that Pea Island Station was moved to Salvo and is now a private residence. Both easily fact checked..

    Thursday, Feb 29 @ 7:41 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Never saw it Steven, but I’ll post this.

    Thursday, Feb 29 @ 6:27 pm
  • jackie harris

    While the % number is used in place of the actual $ is of no use to anyone but the Board of Directors, the Actual amount of $ would allow the People to see how the Money coming in will benefit the Schools and other receivers of $.

    Saturday, Mar 2 @ 10:33 am