Occupancy tax revenue reaches new heights along coast

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 8:03 PM EDT
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CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - The beach has been a familiar getaway for people during the pandemic bringing in record occupancy tax dollars.

Many parents working from home, and most students are learning remotely. So as people continue to search for safe social distancing activities throughout the pandemic, many North Carolina residents are choosing a common destination.

“As soon as they opened up the beach for rentals, we just exploded,” says Anne Holloway with Bluewater NC rentals.

It was back in late March than almost all of the beaches, not just in Carteret County, but along much of the coast of North Carolina, closed because of COVID-19 safety precautions.

But since travel restrictions were lifted in late April, people have been flocking to rentals along the coast.

“Since people aren’t able to go on cruises, they aren’t able to travel abroad, we’ve had a lot of guests coming to the Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle area this year more than in years past,” explains Holloway.

Carteret County brought in more than $2.4 million in occupancy tax in the month of July, a record for any single month.

Hyde and Dare counties said they also saw increased traffic during the summer months.

And property management companies say they don’t see it slowing any time soon.

“October we’re already up about 40% from what we were last year, so it’s been very busy,” Holloway adds.

Crystal Coast tourism says the county as a whole is up 10% from this time last year in occupancy tax revenue, which is having a trickle-down effect on area business owners.

“There’s definitely more going on, the town definitely has a buzz to it right now,” says Julian Johns, the Business Manager at Rucker Johns.

It’s also helping keep money in the pockets of their staff members that usually see a dip following the Labor Day holiday.

“It’s been encouraging to look at them and say, ‘Hey, I’m expecting this to be one of our best falls ever. We’re expecting to stay busy and this is going to be a good fall for you guys,’” Johns adds.

Crystal Coast tourism also says that much of the traffic to the coast in the past has come from Raleigh and the central part of the state, while this year they’re seeing increased flow from the Charlotte area.

According to state law, 50% of the county’s occupancy tax revenue goes directly to beach re-nourishment, the other half goes to the county’s beach commission.

Copyright 2020 WITN. All rights reserved.

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