The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 ended a decade of annual growth in visitor spending in Pasquotank County.
Visit North Carolina reported last week that visitor spending in the county fell just over 19% to $ 56.2 million last year. Tourists spent around $ 70 million in 2019.
âWe all knew this was coming, it’s just not fun looking at those numbers,â said Corrina Ruffieux, CEO of Visit Elizabeth City.
Currituck County, however, was one of 14 counties in the state that posted an increase in tourism spending despite the pandemic, jumping 3% in 2020 to $ 375.4 million.
Occupancy tax revenue at Pasquotank was down 21% in 2020, but those numbers through August of this year show a big rebound in lodging tax collections. In July, occupancy tax revenue was around $ 110,000, compared to just over $ 80,000 in 2019 for the same month.
Ruffieux called the January and February occupancy tax collections strong, but said the remainder of the year so far has produced “record revenues” compared to 2019.
âIt’s amazing because 2019 has been our best year ever,â said Ruffieux. âWe’re doing incredibly well, but the question is how long is that going to last. “
Ruffieux said “almost all” tourist destinations in the United States are seeing the same thing right now.
“The only communities that don’t see what we see are those that rely almost entirely on conventions and business travel,” she said.
While Pasquotank has seen a decline in tourism revenue, the county fared better last year than most of the state, which saw a 32% drop to $ 20 billion. North Carolina, however, ranked fifth in the country in terms of sightseeing.
âWe have done well compared to some of our peer communities,â said Ruffieux.
Ruffieux said Pasquotank’s proximity to the Outer Banks and its rural surroundings helped soften the blow a year ago, and that will continue to be an asset for the future.
âPeople could still travel here and have a weekend getaway without being in the big city crowds,â Ruffieux said. âTravel research always shows that people want to be outside and away from the crowds. We are ready for a prosperous future. We have several advantages that our peer communities do not have. ”
The state report also showed that just over 500 people are employed in travel and tourism at Pasquotank with an annual payroll of nearly $ 16 million. The city and county also collected $ 2.7 million in local taxes from visitors, saving every household in the county $ 329 in taxes in 2020.
Visit North Carolina reported that visitor spending at Currituck was $ 375.4 million in 2020. Food and beverage spending was $ 124 million, while accommodation spending was $ 124 million. amounted to $ 93.5 million.
Currituck Travel and Tourism Director Tameron Kugler said the county has been able to escape many of the negative impacts of the pandemic due to the unique nature of “our short-term vacation rental accommodations.”
âAs a predominantly car-driven market, our visitors can travel with their family unit by car to their vacation rental property with minimal or no contact upon arrival, should they choose to do so,â said Kugler. âIn addition, our remote coastal environment is abundantly rich in open spaces and outdoor activities. For the security conscious, we were an ideal travel destination during a time of significant uncertainty. “
Kugler said more tourists have flocked to Currituck this spring, summer and fall in greater numbers than last year. She said early bookings for 2022 could lead to another “record year”.
âWe feel extremely fortunate that visitors old and new alike continue to return to Corolla and the Currituck Outer Banks,â said Kugler. “While it’s still too early to predict the 2022 season, many vacation rental management companies tell us that bookings are ahead of last year at this time.”
Tourism has generated 2,247 jobs in Currituck with an annual payroll of $ 88.5 million. Tourism, according to the report, generated $ 17.6 million in local tax revenue and $ 12.7 million in state tax revenue.
As a result, every resident of Currituck pays $ 1,083 less in local and state taxes each year, the report says.
Occupancy tax revenue at Currituck last July jumped 42% to about $ 4.2 million from July 2020, when it was around $ 2.9 million. Last August, a modest jump of around $ 22,000 to $ 4,042,114 was recorded from August 2020.
Currituck reported a slight drop in September from about $ 90,000 to $ 3.9 million from the same month last year. Occupancy tax revenues for the first 10 days of October totaled $ 321,000.