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Tourism site gets visitors closer to NC locals

Posted December 2, 2015

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— A group of professors at North Carolina State University is working on a program to make it easier for tourists to connect with locals, offering an alternative to the do-nothing vacation.

It's called People First Tourism, and it offers about a dozen options for hands-on North Carolina experiences.

At Old Milburnie Farm in east Raleigh, Daniel Dayton welcomes visitors who come to learn where their food comes from and the work involved in raising a crop.

"Tourists are interested in genuine experiences, and they are struggling to find them," said Dr. Duarte Morias, an associated professor at N.C. State.

"They want to make sure that when they visit a community, their money stays in that community and helps that community."

The People First Tourism website connects tourists with those opportunities. For $40 dollars, visitors can have a hands-on sustainable farming experience with Dayton.

"It takes a lot of work to keep a farm like this running, and it's probably something that most of us don't know much about," Dayton said.

Morais worked with colleagues in social sciences and computer sciences to connect local entrepreneurs with interested visitors. It offers small business owners like Dayton a new source of revenue and gives his visitors an education.

"It's necessary that people care about where their food comes from," he said. "With People First Tourism, people can come out here and actually get their hands in the dirt and see how it all goes down."

The People First Tourism website offers destinations along the North Carolina coast, in the Piedmont and in the mountains, in addition to some in Costa Rica.


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