WILMINGTON — Officials in the Cape Fear region say Hurricane Arthur’s arrival just before the Fourth of July weekend did little to slow visitors to the region.
The StarNews of Wilmington reported that Arthur passed through the Wilmington area last Thursday night, bringing bands of heavy rain and top wind speeds of around 70 mph.
By the morning of Independence Day, the storm was gone and visitors were heading back to the beaches.
Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith said the holiday was as busy as it normally is. Smith said the weekend was probably busier than normal because conditions improved after the storm.
“We had a beautiful weekend, beautiful weather after the storm. We fared great,” Smith said.
Officials also think any hotel rooms left vacant by cancellations were quickly filled by last-minute visitors.
“Our gut feeling is that there were probably some cancellations, especially from people planning to come in on Wednesday or Thursday,” said Connie Nelson, spokeswoman for the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau. “But what rooms did cancel probably filled up with impulse travelers.”
The Oceanic in Wrightsville Beach closed at 6 p.m. Thursday, and sales took a dip, according to Mindy Stroupe, corporate communications manager for LM Restaurants, Oceanic’s hospitality management group.
“But overall with the weekend, we actually came back very strong,” Stroupe said. “We even did better than last year.”
Meanwhile, one charter boat operator says news media coverage of Arthur brought his business to a standstill.
“We didn’t do any business this weekend. The news media and the weather people really made it sound like it was going to be terrible, and I think it scared people away,” said David Gardner, owner of fishing and sunset cruise charter company Topsail Offshore. “We didn’t even go fishing on Saturday. This weekend is usually pretty good for us.”