From the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
The tourism impact of COVID-10 was felt dramatically throughout the state in 2020, as reflected by a recent study measuring tourism in each of NC’s 100 counties.
In a year that saw a 31.7% drop in statewide tourism spending, the resourcefulness and resilience of Dare County businesses stemmed the tide, posting a modest 2.2% decline – an especially impressive feat considering the destination’s closure to visitors during two months of spring.
The state tourism office, VisitNC, commissions the study annually. A new, more comprehensive methodology was introduced this year, which calculated Dare’s total tourism spending to be $1.4 billion.
This figure ranks Dare as the fourth largest tourism destination in North Carolina. The three destinations ranked ahead of Dare posted 2020 declines of 51.0%, 42.6% and 34.9%, respectively. “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. According to the report summary, state tourism spending in 2020 was $19.96 billion. North Carolina is the nation’s number 5 most visited state.