Following a nine-month-lengthy course of action, that integrated public town hall meetings, a poll of residents, concentrate groups, a job force composed of representatives from a selection of neighborhood agencies and the visitor economy sector, the Outer Banks Guests Bureau has released the findings of a study that lays out a road map for the future of tourism in the area.
Entitled “Long-Variety Tourism Management Program 2023-2033“, the 65-web page report was compiled by MMGY NextFactor, a consulting firm specializing in travel and tourism, for the Dare County Tourism Board and the guests bureau.
“There weren’t a lot of surprises from the information that we saw,” stated Dare County Tourism Board Steering Committee chairman Tim Cafferty.
“The items I see as a organization owner, day-to-day came out in spades on this report,” Cafferty stated. “What can I do to assist and what can other folks in my part in other locations do to assist?”
Roughly 30 islanders attended a meeting in Buxton in January 2023 to offer feedback for the Lengthy-Variety Tourism Management Program.
Cafferty is also President of Outer Banks Blue Realty Solutions, a home/trip rental management and actual estate solutions enterprise primarily based in Kitty Hawk.
Tourism spending in Dare County topped $1.83 billion final year, the fourth highest county in North Carolina, with one particular of every single 3 jobs either aspect of or supported by the visitor economy.
The report was initially presented to the tourism board at their month-to-month meeting on Wednesday, and then later that evening to a gathering of various dozen residents, organization owners, and elected and government officials, at the Ramada Plaza in Kill Devil Hills.
“We have a legislative mandate to market overnight visitation, but there’s absolutely nothing that says that we cannot offer a thing that is a worth and use for the individuals that reside right here as well,” stated Outer Banks Guests Bureau Executive Director Lee Nettles.
“I assume everyone on the tourism board, definitely the guests bureau, had been inspired (by the findings),” Nettles stated.
Lee Nettles opens the presentation on The Outer Banks Lengthy Variety Tourism Management Program. [Sam Walker photo]Made by MMGY NextFactor, a consulting firm specializing in travel and tourism, each presentations on Wednesday had been led by MMGY NextFactor Senior Vice President of Location Stewardship Cassandra McAuley and Executive Consultant Shelly Green.
The pair also led the town hall discussions held in Buxton and Kill Devil Hills in January.
Along with the town halls, additional than four,500 residents responded to an on the net survey performed final fall, and detailed interviews had been performed with additional than a dozen stakeholders inside and outdoors the hospitality and tourism sector.
“To mitigate the challenges connected to the considerable effect of tourism on the Outer Banks, specifically throughout the peak summer season season, the following strategic suggestions will help a balanced development situation, guaranteeing residents and guests advantage from the visitor economy, with a clear concentrate on sustainable and manageable visitation,” according to the study’s executive summary.
The report integrated a crystal ball-like peek at what could be doable one particular decade from now, primarily based on following the study’s suggestions:
4 strategic ambitions had been identified in the report: strengthen resident and visitor engagement, adopt an integrated method to enhancing environmental stewardship, help infrastructure improvement that supports the vitality of the neighborhood residents and guests, and collaborate to advocate for an enhance in residential housing diversity.
The report specifics approaches to enhance the resident/visitor connection, such as connecting guests with non-income and create a “volun-tourism” technique, develop resident advisory panels, create a visitor pledge to “communicate the essential values of accountable behavior,” develop a job force and employ a Neighborhood Engagement Manager to implement the general strategy
On environmental stewardship, the report says the Outer Banks can do additional to enhance its reputation as a leader in outside recreation and caring for its sources, collaborate with environmentally-conscious partners, advocate for roads, sidewalks, and clean mobility to expand choices for non-vehicular transportation, develop a Sustainability Committee to offer input on minimizing tourism’s impacts on the atmosphere, and investing in information platforms for actual-time analytics and use intel for targeting and education.
Infrastructure improvement suggestions incorporate continuing to advocate for beach nourishment and other shoreline management methods, commissioning a study of density although building a capacity management strategy, partnering with the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce on a diverse talent attraction campaign, continue pursuing the Occasion Center at The Soundside in Nags Head, increase accessibility for all ages and skills, and help a pedestrian security strategy that variables in a selection of mobility demands.
Ultimately, the study calls for a additional collaborative work on attempting to enhance housing possibilities for residents, such as operating with neighborhood government and other partners to advocate for an enhance in dwelling ownership choices for a wider base of residents, create approaches to educate about demands for additional housing diversity, advocate for a balance in quick- and lengthy-term rental and dwelling ownership possibilities, growing public transportation and mobility choices and workforce accessibility, and companion with neighborhood groups to create public-private housing improvement possibilities.
“I assume the sector has to step up right here and do our aspect. And irrespective of whether that is the sustainability irrespective of whether it is the pledge of the visitor, communications, irrespective of whether it is voluntourism,” Cafferty stated. “These are all thrilling items that we’ve in no way contemplated ahead of.”
“But definitely the housing, transportation, we’ve all got to be a aspect of the answer,” Cafferty stated.
“The superior news is guests adore it right here,” Nettles stated. “And they want to fully grasp the spot superior, they want to really feel like they’re additional connected with the Outer Banks and their neighbor. So we just require to give them the tools to assist them enhance their understanding.”
The report also gave a forecast evaluation with possible scenarios of aggressive and moderate development, and a “retrench” situation.
The aggressive situation has the Outer Banks effectively pursuing the important components of the strategy, creating improved visitor spending and financial activity, and in turn bringing in additional tax income and jobs, and building a comparatively stronger shoulder season which in turn extends seasonal jobs and brings additional organization into year-round operation.
Beneath the moderate situation, important components of the study are pursued, although managing housing, workforce, and environmental stewardship are prioritized, although a additional modest level of visitor spending is sought.
The retrench situation reflects the pandemic-era development in visitation’s general strain on the neighborhood, and efforts to handle these challenges from visitor volumes, infrastructure, workforce, and housing garner are not pursued, and benefits in decrease development in visitor spending and financial activity which leads to decrease neighborhood tax income and fewer jobs.
Nettles stated the moderate situation known as for in the report is a additional affordable, and realistic, method for the Outer Banks as a neighborhood.
“One of the other items that comes out of the strategy is there’s a lot additional than we can do, and need to do, to not only concentrate on that sustainable development, but figure out how to take measures to superior align tourism activities with the good quality of life for the people that reside right here,” Nettles stated.
Nettles stated the creation of the Residents Advisory Council and hiring the Neighborhood Engagement Manager are amongst the greatest quick priorities in the quick term, and there are a couple of quick products that came from the report that will be addressed at subsequent month’s Dare County Tourism Board meeting.
Moving forward from what the reports calls for from Dare County and the six municipalities need to not be challenging, Nettles stated, and was currently expressed throughout the board’s meeting Wednesday morning.
“Along with representatives from the municipalities, County Commissioner Ervin Bateman stated that the strategy was a fantastic tool for land use improvement organizing for municipalities and for the county,” Nettles stated.
“Every town, every single village, has its personal special set of challenges,” Nettles stated. “But ideally, there’s sufficient that we can agree on, and type of align the efforts moving forward.”
“I’ve been about that board a lengthy time,” Cafferty stated. “And it is the most vibrant organization I’ve been with, that you genuinely come in with a commonality.”
“Someone told me not too long ago the old saying: ‘When’s the most effective time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. Second most effective time to plant a tree? Now,” Cafferty stated.
“I assume that is what our board feels, ‘We’re not certain exactly where this is going? But we have a fantastic mindset to push this point along’,” Cafferty stated.
Posted in Top Stories, Visitor Economy