The Cape Fear Tourism and Visitors Bureau reports that occupancy tax collection in New Hanover County is down almost eight percent during the fist four months of the year. That number tends to be the best gauge of tourism in our area. Those numbers need to rise dramatically in May and June, the end of the fiscal year, or total occupancy tax collection rates will decrease for the first time in eight years. “People may have forgone a trip last year and are willing to make a trip this year. So we don't know what it's going to look like for a while until the season plays out,” said economist Woody Hall. Even with the decrease, Hall says southeastern North Carolina is fairing better than many other tourist destinations around the country, due to the fact this area is considered a drive-to location. That makes it difficult to evaluate whether less people are visiting, or they're just spending less money.
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