Tourism is up in our great state, according to the Charlotte Observer, who says the "beach is beckoning this year - good news for North Carolina's tourism industry."
AAA Carolinas predicts a 12 percent increase over last year in Fourth of July holiday travel. And along the coast, businesses say they're seeing more tourists than in the past two years. ...
It's too early to tell whether the trend will carry through the summer - school hasn't been out that long. But Caroline Meeks, who runs Victory Beach Vacations in Carolina Beach, said her rentals recently jumped again after a strong early spring, then a lull in May.
"If I look at the numbers for the whole year, we are up," Meeks said. "Unfortunately, some of our reservations are from the Gulf Coast. People are saying they had to cancel their reservations there and make new ones."
Like it did last summer, the company is still getting a lot of last-minute reservations, Meeks said. Customers also are asking for shorter rentals.
"We've adjusted," she said, by cutting required lengths of stay and by staffing the office until 9 p.m. "If the mom says, 'OK, we can go. Let's see if we can find a place,' and they want to go tomorrow morning and it's 8 o'clock on Thursday, you want to have somebody there to answer the phone."
We have noticed some of these trends as well. In fact, a recent visitor changed up his original Alabama Gulf Shores trip because of the Gulf oil spill and instead came to Carolina Beach. We're always happy for the business -- just wish it was for another reason.
We are also getting many more "last-minute" requests. Whereas a year ago people were planning their vacations a couple of months ahead of time, now we're getting those calls and emails just a couple of weeks before. And instead of week-long stays, we are seeing more and more 3- or 4-night sojourns at OBP.