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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Mr. Natural

September 30, 2010 11:17 am

Hey, maybe if they ban ORVs on the National Seashore beaches all together, even more people will visit, and the whiners who own and run the eyesore bait shops will drop out, and people who like the natural surroundings will open businesses.


September 23, 2010 7:00 pm

Of course you could never “get one to cash flow”, Russ.
That’s never been the name of the game, when investing in Outer Banks real estate, and certainly not during the building boom. You should know better than that. The idea was to buy/build and let the property appreciate, while taking tax writeoffs such as depreciation, and some of those other “paper expenses” you mention. e.g. management fees, which is money the owner never realizes in the first place. And, I have to agree with Ekim, paper loses do, in fact, pave the way for dollars to leave the Outer Banks. I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count…paper loses in North Carolina, followed by tax dodging when the property is disposed of. Been there, seen that…In short, it’s the visitor that provides the ‘revenue stream’ for locals here on the Outer Banks, not the greedy out-of-state investors building the cottages and calling them personal vacation homes…. FACT, NOT FICTION…

Russ Lay

September 23, 2010 12:45 pm

Bill–when you can show me, on paper, how millions of dollars go into a homeowners pocket, I’ll be a believer. In spite of Ray’s comments, most of these homes, especially if purchased in 1999 and beyond, lose real money, not just paper losses as others imply. Calculate the mortgage on a $600,000 between the highways home, add in the 10-15% management fee, and compare it to the gross revenue. Then subtract utilities, repairs, and other costs. One reason I never made loans on rental properties when I was a banker is that I could never, ever, get one to cash flow. I left those loans to the mortgage industry. If others have “audited” many of these, I have assessed hundreds, especially those built in the boom. There’s a reason all those for sale signs and foreclosure notices dot the rental home market inventory. And its not because those owners are swimming in cash.

Russ Lay

September 23, 2010 12:39 pm

Ekim: My guess is that what you heard is probably correct. While American’s seemed determined to take their well-earned vacations, it does appear many have cut back on spending once they arrive–tee shirts, cloths, knick-knacks, even dining out. And I think the story is the same everywhere–from Williamsburg to the Big Apple.


September 22, 2010 10:24 pm

Yet still no fireworks on the 4th, hello Dare County?!


September 21, 2010 1:57 pm

I didn’t hear that Ekim…I did hear that spending on Hatteras Island was up, except in tackle shops where visiting fisherman were mostly buying their stuff before crossing the Oregon Inlet Bridge because tackle shops down there were saying they were going out of business due to the ORV matter. I guess this is what they mean by shooting yourself in the foot.


September 20, 2010 4:15 pm

Rentals were at an all time high but spending at the local bizs were at an all time LOW i heard on the radio did anyone else hear that?


September 19, 2010 6:10 pm

As an ex-tax auditor who worked the Outer Banks for almost ten years, examining businesses, sales tax reports, and income tax returns (including many, many sales of vacation/rental homes by nonresidents), I feel comfortable in saying (after being retired for 15 years) that these non-residents don’t pay a piddling in taxes here that they want you to believe. They are only “tax collectors” when it comes to sales tax; they buy the majority of cottage furnishings from out of state, and a large majority use to puchase lumber for construction here, from VA lumber companies. How do I know? Cause I audited a whole bunch of them. Finally, when it comes time to sell these business investments, which they have showed losses on for most of their years…what do you think happens? They fail to report the sale to NC and someone has to chase after a lot of them. Been there, done that….

Ricky T

September 19, 2010 2:34 pm

Bill-Think of all the jobs that have been created in managing and maintaining the rental homes.You make it sound like it all goes out and nothing comes back,not hardly…..


September 19, 2010 8:58 am

Russ- Of every dollar that’s made here, how much of it actually goes to a local business owner?

When you factor in the tens/hundreds of millions that goes straight into an out-of-area-rental homeowner’s pocket, then to Walmart, to Food Lion, to Wings, to all these off-island owners… it’s no wonder we are hurting.

It amazes me that those homeowners and tourists collectively feel that we locals should be grateful somehow to them for paying their taxes and giving us 8-buck jobs, ha ha. It’s almost like a 21st century form of Serfdom.

Russ Lay

September 18, 2010 7:54 pm

G–no disconnect at all. Tourism jobs are mostly low-wage and seasonal. Our fulltime economy was built upon real estate sales, construction, subcontractors, and all of the zillions of business that support real estate–closing attorneys, title companies, landscapers, furniture and carpet stores.


September 18, 2010 6:44 pm

Mico, there may be more truth to your comments than you know. I’m afraid our county commissioners and some HI locals have shot themselves in the foot with this issue; and cost all of us a lot of tax dollars…


September 18, 2010 10:06 am

HAROLD you must be very well off Or you aint got no JOB!!


September 18, 2010 8:32 am

And remember all the money the county is spending telling us that no one is coming or will come to Hatteras because of sand issues too. Maybe the businesses in Buxton are not doing as well as they’d wish because the guests don’t want to vacation around grumpy bitter people telling them how awful a time they should be having.


September 17, 2010 7:33 pm

Well I guess we benefited at the expense of the Gulf Coast oil spill crisis, which is in a way sad.

Ekim — if you think your taxes are high MOVE.


September 17, 2010 5:12 pm

The BP oil spill had something to do with it also.I spoke to a number of people who came here for the first time.They all said the usually go to the gulf.

Ricky T

September 17, 2010 3:43 pm

Judging by the September traffic,it’s going to break records too!I drove down the bypass Tuesday evening around 7.30 and the restaurants were packed!You’d think it was July!

I’m glad to see it.


September 17, 2010 11:06 am

Yet, I keep reading about how locals are hurting economically. Why this disconnect?


September 17, 2010 9:46 am

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

Maybe the situation in the Gulf of Mexico had a little something to do with the increase in visitors????


September 17, 2010 7:47 am

If dare co made all this money then QUIT RAISING MY TAXES !!! give us a TAX CUT!!!!!


September 17, 2010 6:13 am

Wait, I thought Bob O. said no one would come because of the horrid situation in South Nags Head.


September 17, 2010 3:21 am

Super !

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