Dare’s travel business explained at Rodanthe meeting
Posted Thu, Dec 29, 2022 at 7:06am
In Rodanthe, Dale County Tourism officials provided information about Dale County Tourism and Outer Banks operations before they began explaining the proposed event center.
Back-to-back presentations were given in early December by Tourism Board Chairman Tim Cafferty and Tourism Board Executive Director Lee Nettles. The first presentation, entirely at the Event Center, was for the Manteo Town Council. Second night, December. On the 8th, the two began to introduce basic information about the operation of the board and bureau.
Dale County’s business is tourism, welcoming Outer Banks guests with hospitality. The business generated $1.83 billion in visitor revenue last year, ranking fourth among the state’s 100 counties. Dare is ranked ahead of Charlotte (Mecklenburg County), Asheville (Buncomb County) and Wake County.
The state received $67.6 million in taxes from Dale County and realized $79.2 million in tourism revenue.
Dare’s business created 12,295 travel-related jobs.
Dale County Tourism has 13 members, one from each town, plus members from the Outer Banks Hotel/Motel Association, Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce, Outer Banks Association of Realtors and Outer Banks Restaurant Association. Two members are marked as At-Large. One of the Ordinary Members must be from Hatteras Island. Membership is regulated by the Board of Directors empowerment legislation passed by the General Assembly on 30 May 1999 as the Assembly Act 1999-177.
Outer Banks Tourism is the “Official Destination Marketing Organization for the Outer Banks of Dale County”.
The bureau is funded by a 1% tax on overnight accommodations and a 1% tax on prepared meals. The legislation stipulates that, after paying audit fees, the board must spend 75 percent of its income on promotions and 25 percent on programs and services required due to the impact of tourism.
In 2020-21, the Tourism Office saw a 34% increase in revenue. Tax revenue typically rises around 4%. Currently, Dare’s overall occupancy tax collection is up 6% through September. Hatteras Island rose 8%. On the prepared food tax, collections are up 7 percent countywide; 3 percent on Hatteras Island, Cafferty reported.
About 70% of revenue is collected in June, July and August. “We have to address that,” Nettles said, noting that attracting tourists during off-peak months would increase job stability and possibly housing stability.
To boost overnight visitors, the Del County Tourism Office funds event grants based on applications from nonprofit organizations and local governments. In the first round of this fiscal year, 18 activity grants were awarded. At least two events are scheduled for Hatteras Island: Rock the Cape with the Dale County Arts Council and the Shore Break 5K-Tide Pool Fun Run with the Hatteras Island Youth Educational Foundation.
Restricted funding Tourism Impact Grants to local nonprofits and government units. The application window is September each year. For the 2022-23 fiscal year, the Department of Tourism awarded eight Tourism Impact Grants with the consent of the Dale County Commissioner, three of which were on Hatteras Island. For the island, $200,000 will serve as matching funds for the Frisco-Buxton Pathway grant. Approximately $34,595 will be awarded to Outer Banks Forever to replace the historic Bureau of Weather Signal Tower in the Village of Hatteras, and an additional $132,000 will fund another Outer Banks Forever project, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Passage.
In addition, from long-unfunded funds, the Frisco-Buxton Pathway received $200,000 and the Friends of the Cemetery at the Museum of the Atlantic received $250,000 for new exhibits.
Over the 20 years that Outer Banks National Scenic Byway and partners have built or proposed roads on Hatteras Island, Dale County Tourism has provided $900,000 in matching funds and over $300,000 in construction funding, totaling $1.2 million.
Over the past six years, the tourism board has spent a total of $1,589,199 on the Hatteras Island project, Nettles said.
Regarding the event center, Nettles said “we have a lot of work to do.” Dale County Tourism will need to discuss financing the structure with the Dale County Commission. Tourism will be engaging with the Town of Nags Head regarding parking, building size and height.
In short, the event center planned for the existing event space at Nags Head will feature a 26,000 sq ft event hall, a 15,000 sq ft conference room, a training/test kitchen and nearly 18,000 sq ft of halls, bathrooms, etc. A retractable wall is featured, and many sports courts are possible, including basketball, pickleball, and volleyball. Capacity varies from 300 to 2,500 people.
The facility is projected to run a $312,000 annual deficit. Projections show that event centers will add 14,000 new room nights, $1.17 million in new taxes and $25.15 million in new expenses, as well as 191 new jobs and nine full-time employees.
Nettles didn’t wait for anyone to ask “What’s for Hatteras Island?” Nettles answered with an additional tax base, a venue for recreational sporting events, new jobs and a year-round tourism economy.
About 20 people from the northern villages of Hatteras Island attended the meeting.
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