Dare up in tourism but likely to lose 4th-place spot to Asheville

By on September 13, 2017

A feature on Shelly Island was the Visitors Bureau’s top video.

After another solid year of tourism, Dare County is on pace to see even more increases in tax and occupancy collections in 2017.

Dare County recorded a 7 percent increase in rental revenue during June with $79,240,527 in occupancy income compared to June of 2016, Lee Nettles, the managing director of the Dare County Tourism Board, said.

The total, he said, does not reflect variables among individual business, some of which saw seasonal ups and others, downward or break-even trends.


While that puts revenue so far this year 11 percent above 2016, Dare County is likely to lose its standing as fourth among the state’s 100 counties in tourism dollars, Nettles said in a presentation to the Dare County Board of Commissioners last week.

Buncombe County, which includes Asheville in the western mountains, is right on Dare’s heels and will soon move into fourth place primarily because it added about 25 percent more hotel rooms in the past two or three years, Nettles said.

With limited land and environmental restrictions under the Coastal Area Management Act, “we simply don’t have the potential for expansion,” Nettles said. “And, you know, some would argue that’s a good thing. It keeps it what we are and keeps people coming back for that experience.”

July of this year will likely show returns a little under last year, primarily because of a record jump of 18 percent in July 2016 over the same month in 2015 and this year’s power outage on Hatteras Island, Nettles said.

Power was off for about a week after transmission cables were cut in a construction accident at the site of the Bonner Bridge replacement project. A common misconception was that the outage had affected the entire Outer Banks, Nettles said. Hatteras represents about 25 percent of the county’s tourism traffic and only areas south of Oregon Inlet were affected.


When power was restored, the Bureau produced a video “Hatteras is On” featuring local businesses that drew 383,000 views and reached 791,313 people, Nettles said.

Social media have provided a big boost in exposure, Nettles said. People tend to gravitate to social media sites they trust, and the Visitors Bureau has focused on marketing on the more popular sites.

Shelly Island, the sandbar off the Point on Hatteras Island, has been a draw in itself, if not in actual tourism dollars, at least in interest. Nettles said a feature produced by the Bureau was its top video, with a reach of 1.5 million people.


In 2016, the county saw a 4.5 percent increase in tourism dollars. According to state figures, the economic impact was $1.1 billion, producing $102.31 million in state and local taxes.

Mecklenburg, Wake and Guilford counties are the state’s top three.


  • Trawl

    My income has not gone up 7% this year, or in the past five years, but the cost of my groceries, gasoline, county taxes, etc. sure have, making it harder and harder to live here. But, I suppose I should be happy all the Mcmansion owners, realty companies, restaurants, and surf shops are thriving, and that the tourist bureau to rake more money into its coffers. Sigh!

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 9:19 am
  • Mike Martin

    How is the claim coming for the revenue tax income that was lost for Hatteras Island during the power outage and the island being closed from Thursday 7-27-17 to Friday 8-4-17 ? Has Dare County filed a claim with PCL Construction for the revenue lost. What is the $ amount of the claim?

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 10:30 am
  • surf123

    Position on an arbitrary list means nothing. Money is up 11% which should be good for most businesses. Of course every year there are more and more businesses fighting for the tourist dollar. The reference to hotel rooms in other areas is a concern. It is a part of the subtle narrative that has been floating around prior to Mr. Nettles, but he has stepped it up. His (and others) plans are to pummel the building height restrictions to put it large hotels under the guise of their not being sufficient lodging. Along with the never-ending quest for a convention center. We should live we what we have and not be greedy. Quality of life will decline quickly when the large hotels move in.

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 11:29 am
  • Matthew Byrne

    $288,717,525 reflected in the VALUE of Building Permits for Dare County in 2016 & 2017 YTD would seem to suggest that there is juuuust a little bit of ‘potential for expansion’…

    Just sayin!

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 12:48 pm
  • Scales of Balance

    Comments so far make me shake my head.

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 2:12 pm
  • Trawl

    I would like to see the tourist bureau do a study and give us some local figures for how much the cost of groceries and other living essentials have gone up in the past five years. Also, how much the salaries of maids, cleaners and fast food workers has risen. Then throw in the cost of rental housing.

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 5:20 pm
  • Michael

    Hard to imagine we are only 4 th in the state. Especially Asheville? Dunno.

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 6:28 pm
  • Michael

    I guess Asheville does have a casino I think

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 6:30 pm
  • Ruthless

    25 percent more hotel rooms in Asheville over the past two or three years…How many more bedrooms have we added to Dare’s rental market over the past two or three years?

    Wednesday, Sep 13 @ 9:09 pm
  • charlie

    Trawl and Surf123 have very valid comments….Will the Voice seek out Lee Nettles and ask him to respond to them?

    Thursday, Sep 14 @ 2:18 am
  • Kevin

    The sad part of all this really is with that much money in taxes and income that Dare schools are still ranked some of the worst in the state. Not to mention that they never have money for what the kids need. Oh yeah sorry this is atourist area, lets not worry about things that matter.

    Thursday, Sep 14 @ 7:53 am
  • Surfman

    ….and some people still want offshore drilling, fight beach restoration and deny the effects of limited change. Read the numbers – the beach is our economy.

    Thursday, Sep 14 @ 9:05 am
  • surf123

    The tourism board is interested in one group of people only and it is not the residents. Once you understand that you will see why they make all the decisions they do and that they are intent on morphing the Outer Banks into Myrtle Beach or Virginia Beach. They have far too much money and power and like I have always said we do not need anymore advertising as there are already too many visitors now.

    Thursday, Sep 14 @ 11:10 am
  • Dee Langston

    No, Asheville doesn’t have a casino, but there is one in Cherokee. Asheville has mountains, cooler weather, and a hip downtown.

    Thursday, Sep 14 @ 4:20 pm
  • Bud

    Destroying the outer banks with tourism..

    Friday, Sep 15 @ 8:21 am
  • slappy

    is there a report that states these things, I’d be interested in historical numbers of the top counties.

    Monday, Sep 18 @ 3:39 pm
  • Just Beachy

    Kevin what are you talking about? Most of our schools rank in the top 20% of the state.

    Monday, Sep 18 @ 3:52 pm
Recent posts in this category