FAYETTEVILLE — Travelers know there are a lot of places to stop for gas, food and lodging along Interstate 95 as they travel north or south.
One particular exit, however, is quickly becoming known as the place with the most choices in North Carolina.
Exit 49 now has the largest block of hotel rooms just off Interstate 95 in the entire state. Business is expected to grow even more in the near future.
Elias Mack commutes a lot with his job. He makes a point to stay at exit 49 in Fayetteville whenever he is traveling.
"There's restaurants and gas stations right here," Mack says. "It's just a safe area. I like it."
Mack and thousands of other I-95 motorists like the choices offered along the stretch. There are now more than ever.
In the last four years, five new hotels have gone up in the area known as Cedar Creek, bringing the total to 14. The momentum keeps growing.
Jean Ammons' family has owned hotels in the Fayetteville area since the 1950s. Three are now at exit 49.
"I expect us to do like the Florence, South Carolina exit," Ammons says. "We'll grow larger, bigger. More people will come. It's competition, but it's also an asset."
Over the past several years, the city has worked to create an inviting area for the 80,000 or so people who travel past the area every day.
Sidewalks and lights have been installed for safety. Many hotels are now seeing a lot of repeat business because of those efforts.
"I think we've hit the stage now, just like you'll see in Florence, Norfolk, Richmond and other large markets, where people are looking for the last tier of places where they can eat and shop," said Doug Traub of the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Nearly 40 percent of all hotel revenue in Cumberland County comes from the exit.
Tourism officials will try to emphasize all the choices this fall when they launch a radio station that can be accessed while driving through the county.