Local News

Recent Events Taking A Toll On Triangle Tourism

Posted September 28, 2001

— Across the country and in the Triangle, the September 11th attacks are taking a toll on the tourism industry.

Many people are still reluctant to fly, and in the Triangle, the loss of Raleigh-based Midway Airlines has not helped. Midway was responsible for about a third of the flights into and out of the area.

The huge drop in business travel and tourism in general has has forced the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau to cut a quarter of its budget and refocus its efforts.

One-of-a-kind museums, exhibitions and big sporting events are just a few of the things that attract thousands of people to Raleigh every year. But this year, officials are already seeing signs that many people are staying home.

Local tourism officials say that hotels that were close to 70 percent full last September will be lucky to reach 50 percent occupancy rates this year.

The visitors bureau, funded by a hotel occupancy tax, was forced to cut its budget by $800,000 and eliminate three staff positions. Its marketing strategy has also changed.

"We're actually, for all intentional purposes, throwing out our regular marketing plan we had for this year and focusing on a short-term business and drive-in business that might come in from surrounding states or within our state," says David Heinl of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

It is also pushing more

weekend getaways

through its

Web site

. The goal is to let people know that a good vacation does not have to involve flying or spending a lot of cash.

Raleigh is not suffering as much as larger cities that rely heavily on national convention business. Attendance for conventions has not dropped off that much because the area is more of a regional meetings market. More people can drive here, instead of fly.

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