The day after Labor Day marks the end of what we traditionally call the vacation season, and with lower gas prices and better weather, North Carolina tourism officials have high hopes that 2014 will be a strong year for the industry.
And make no mistake – it is quite an industry. Travel and tourism generated more than $20 billion to the state’s economy in 2013, Telegram staff writer Brie Handgraaf reported in a story last week. And more than $310 million was spent in the Twin Counties.
As Nash County Executive Director Alexandra Boncek noted: “Those are people who are infusing cash in the local economy, but not taxing the infrastructure as a resident.”
In other words, they come here to eat and play, then leave their money with us when they return home. That’s a win all the way around for local restaurants, hotels and other merchants.
And while Labor Day signals the end of many beach trips and mountain excursions for the year, the Twin Counties has plenty of events and activities that are likely to continue drawing visitors.
The Rocky Mount sports complex attracts thousands of athletes, coaches and families well into fall. The Down East Viking Football Classic will bring alumni from Elizabeth City State University and Benedict College to Rocky Mount on the weekend of Sept. 20.
The Eastern BBQ Throwdown Festival will fill the streets of downtown on the weekend of Oct. 10. Andt there are plenty of other events revolving around football, family reunions, church homecomings and more this fall.
Rocky Mount’s location near Interstate 95 and the future Interstate 495 makes the city a convenient stop-over for travelers from other states.
With $310 million generated by tourists in 2013, everyone in the Twin Counties should be mindful of being good hosts for a long time to come.