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In NC, stay-at-home travel worries translate to boom for beach rentals

Posted September 10, 2020 2:40 p.m. EDT
Updated September 10, 2020 6:12 p.m. EDT

— For the most part, the coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the economy, but the Carolina coast has been a key exception. With people looking for getaways that are close to home this summer, the coastal rental economy has soared.

"Literally from Memorial Day through the entire summer, we have been absolutely crazy," said Dara Newberry, general manager at the Shell Island resort.

Her property has been at full occupancy for almost the entire summer. It was a big relief after having to be closed for two months in the spring.

"Everything was very uncertain, and nobody knew what was going to happen, if we were going to be able to survive," she said.

That struggle to survive, however, continues for restaurants that must operate at 50% capacity and are seeing more people opt for eating at home.

Elaine Andrews, owner of South Beach restaurant, said, "The habits have definitely changed. You don't see as many people coming out. They don't come out as often."

But everyone is still hopeful for continued recovery. Occupancy rates for June in Wrightsville Beach were almost 7% higher than they were in June of 2019. The Wilmington Area Visitor's Bureau reported occupancy rate growth even higher – in the double digits – at Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.

Based on the summer, businesses at the beach are hoping for a great fall.

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