Dare occupancy receipts reach an all-time high

By on September 16, 2010

A tight economy apparently hasn’t discouraged people from vacationing on the Outer Banks.

Vacation rental receipts hit an all-time high in Dare County during July, and August is likely to show similar results when the numbers come in later this month.

The Dare County Visitor’s Bureau reported that rentals of cottages, hotel rooms, bed-and-breakfast accommodations and camping sites brought in $101,783,465, a 16 percent jump over last July.

Year-to-date, occupancy receipts are up 8.42 percent over last year, said Lee Nettles, managing director of the bureau.

Nettles attributed the increase partially to pent-up demand after a long stretch of discouraging economic news.

“A lot of destinations had a good July and August, I think,” he said.

The previous best July was in 2007, when occupancy receipts stood at a little over $97 million. The dollar amounts do not take into account changes in rental rates from year to year. So they are not necessarily a comparative measure of the number of people vacationing in Dare County from one year to the next.

Records were not immediately available for the years before 2001, but Nettles said it was a safe assumption that none of them approached this July’s total. July is historically the highest month of the year for occupancy receipts.

Even Hatteras Island, which has dealt with beach closures under a consent decree to protect nesting shorebirds, saw a big jump this July to $27.8 million from $23.4 million last July. That was an increase of 18.5 percent, which was even more than the northern beaches, which saw a 15 percent increase.

Rental companies reported earlier this summer that the first three weeks of August, the final stretch before many school systems resume classes, were fully booked.

“We’ll see if the numbers bear it out,” Nettles said. “At any rate, it’s encouraging.”

After a period of flat spending, people appear to be dining out more, too, or at least they are spending more on meals. In July, they spend $35.2 million compared to $32.6 million in July 2009, which was an increase of 7.98 percent.

Overall, the Outer Banks has fared reasonably well during the protracted recession, experiencing a decline in gross occupancy receipts only in 2009, when they dipped 6 percent to $343.6 million from the year before. It was the only year in a decade to show a decline.

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