Local News

NC coast expects tourism dollars over Memorial Day weekend

Posted May 22, 2020 6:00 a.m. EDT
Updated May 22, 2020 6:26 a.m. EDT

— After a couple of months in self-isolation, many people will hit the beaches for Memorial Day weekend. That means more business for the tourism industry on the North Carolina coast.

Less wheels on the road means lower gas prices

The pandemic has jumbled holiday traffic predictions. For the first time in 20 years, The Americal Automobile Association is not issuing a Memorial Day travel forecast because of the extreme uncertainty. But the organization says travel volume is likely to set a record low.

But, drivers likely will find good news at the gas pump. Gas Buddy, an app that helps people find the lowest gas prices, estimates Memorial Day weekend prices to be the lowest since 2003.

Beach communities ready for business

Businesses along the coast say they are ready for business.

"We’re expecting a busy weekend and week," said Lee Nettles, executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau in Manteo.

If you’re heading to the coast, Nettles said you might want to bring some of the essentials with you. Some groceries -- like paper products -- haven't been in supply at some stores.

"We’re advising guests to bring essentials with them," he said.

The state's Phase Two plan to reopen means more stores, restaurants and attractions will be open, but the locals said visitors need to be patient as businesses adapt. For instance, restaurants will operate at 50% capacity, so it might be tougher to find a table. Also, the state is recommending that no more than six people sit at a single table unless they are part of the same household.

Nettles said even though it feels like we are coming out of the pandemic, it's important to remember the 3 W's -- wearing masks in public, waiting further back in line to maintain physical distance and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.

"We’re asking that everyone continue the safety measures that have helped to flatten the curve," he said. "Coronavirus doesn’t take a vacation."

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