Downtown Wilmington sees an uptick in foot traffic as the summer season kicks off

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) —The return of crowds downtown is good news, as many people continue to support local businesses.

Today, many people were walking the streets of downtown Wilmington, enjoying the warm temperatures, restaurants, and shopping at local stores.

Tourists visiting downtown Wilmington say they’re eager to sightsee and enjoy sunny weather, after being stuck inside for most of last year during the pandemic.

“We’ve never been to downtown Wilmington or the historic district, and we thought it’d be a great thing to check out. Really get a sense for the history and what the historic district’s all about,” said Pierce Richardson, tourist.

There are also plenty of locals happy to be able to enjoy the city, now that more people are getting vaccinated and restrictions loosen.

“I think people are recognizing that as we get vaccinated, and that’s a critical thing to do, we can loosen up a little bit. So, I think we’re feeling better about the future,” said March Lohela, resident.

The Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau is expecting tourism to be booming this summer, now that it’s easier and safer to be out and about.

“Think we’re going to have a great summer, actually summer kind of hit early this year. We had some travel partners, who were saying that they were starting to see summer numbers on weekends, as early as April, and as some of the mask mandates and travel restrictions eased, we’ve seen that even grow,” said  Connie Nelson, Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau Communication PR Director.

“We’ve been doing a lot of restaurant eating lately, outdoors and indoors, which is kind of nice finally, and we think supporting local businesses is really critical, it’s what makes Wilmington alive and vibrant,” said Marc.

“Part of why we moved here, we love it,” said Ruth Lohela, resident.

The bureau believes the uptick in foot traffic downtown will benefit local businesses, as they make a comeback after challenges faced last year.

“Well there’s a lot of pent up travel demand. So, it’s not just people traveling to the area, but also locals who have been pent up for so long, and everybody’s wanting to go out and support the local businesses. So, that’s really going to help our tourism,” said Nelson.

For those planning to venture out under the eased COVID-19 restrictions, the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau has a list of businesses in the area, that have completed the “Count on Me NC” safety training program, which is an industry-specific COVID-19 training promoting a safe and healthy business environment.

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