By Anna Phillips | February 4, 2021 at 10:39 PM EST – Updated February 4 at 11:48 PM
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – Some New Hanover County beach towns saw banner years in 2020 despite the pandemic.
Tourism experts measure this by room occupancy tax reports year over year. Beaches and many other outdoors venues, including parts of the North Carolina mountains, saw record high numbers of visitors, while it is convention center areas like downtown Wilmington that suffered most with the cancellation of all large events.
Carolina and Kure beaches each ended the year more than 35% up over 2019.
The City of Wilmington finished down more than 23%, while the area known as the New Hanover County “convention center district“ saw a loss of nearly 41%.
However, the president of the New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority, Kim Hufham, says there is still room for optimism in 2021, even for large venues.
“We think that the beaches will continue to do well and we’re hoping that the COVID vaccine being out now, and the different research and things that we follow for the travel research industry…” she said. “We are seeing that the visitor sentiment about travel is going back up.”
Hufham says our area convention centers have events scheduled for this fall.
“So, we are being optimistic that those will hold. As of right now, they have not canceled and we’re hoping that once we see that we can do those successfully that we will see more of those and start booking on into 2022 and 2023,” she said.
As for the beaches, Hufham expects many people will continue seeking that safer outdoor recreation for vacation and that the beaches will see solid spring and summer numbers.
As for those large events, only time will tell.
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