Visit Raleigh CEO: It could be 5 years before Wake County recovers revenue lost to COVID-19

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Tourism is another industry taking a big hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Raleigh, is getting $1.25 million from the CARES Act that will be used for a new tourism recovery campaign.

That money will be used for advertising and virtual tours to get more people to visit the capital city and for meeting planners to start considering Raleigh for future events.

Wake County says it’s lost more than $135 million from canceled meetings, conventions, and sporting events. Hotel occupancy is also a major concern. Normally at this time of year, hotels would be operating at 80-percent occupancy. Right now it’s at 40 percent.

Visit Raleigh CEO Dennis Edwards said they’re putting the focus on building trust, letting people know Wake County is following CDC guidelines, and appealing to those who are only a few hours away.

“What we refer to as the leisure market, that’s what is really going to rebound the quickest because it’s easier for people to take those one or two day getaways. People still want to take a quick trip we have a lot of outdoor activities still occurring,” said Edwards.

Edwards says the big drivers right now are going to be sporting events and the food scene. He’s calling those short-term recovery goals, adding he thinks it’s going to take at least five years for Wake County to fully recover from this lost revenue.

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