Tourism back in North Carolina after industry lost $10 billion due to COVID

Piedmont Triad News

(WGHP) — The tourism and hospitality industry lost $10 billion in our state due to the pandemic.

Now, Triad cities’ leaders believe hope is on the horizon when it comes to bringing dollars back to the region.

The Greensboro Science Center is one of the attractions making a comeback after a tough year.

“A lot of people told us that Greensboro and tourism doesn’t go hand and hand, but science has proven that wrong,” CEO of the Greensboro Science Center Glenn Dobrogosz said.

Recent construction has developed it into a three-in-one destination. It contributed to their record-breaking May, as they saw more than 45,000 people walk through their doors that month alone.

“So glad we made the decisions that we did during COVID. We could have easily stopped construction,” Dobrogosz said. “It’s a three-in-one destination. It’s an aquarium, a science museum and a zoological park all in one.”

Dobrogosz said tourism attractions like these as well as local restaurants and businesses are the backbones of this economy.

“Tourism is the purest form of economic development because right now 70 percent of our guests come from outside of Guilford County. They come here, they spend their money here, they spend their money downtown — other cultural attractions,” Dobrogosz said.

Less than 20 miles down the road, hotels in High Point are booked.

It’s not just because of the High Point Furniture Market and the High Point Rockers’ baseball games.

“We’ve got the National Senior Hall of Fame Golf Championship next week, June 15th-18th. That’s going to bring roughly 200 golfers to the area. The following week, we have the Miss North Carolina Pageant,” said Nancy Bowman, with the High Point Visitor’s Bureau.

Now that the High Point Theatre is open at full capacity, it will allow for more spectators at the pageant.

In Winston-Salem, despite the city’s tourism industry taking a 50 percent cut during the thick of COVID, Visit Winston-Salem President Richard Geiger said they’ve been able to regain 25 percent of it back.

“Late March, April, May, our convention business started coming back, our state association business started coming back,” Geiger said.

While Triad officials said it’s not the cash flow that they’re used to from pre-COVID days, it’s a step in the right direction.

“We’re definitely in a much better position than a year ago,” Geiger said.

Officials at Visit NC said the tourism and hospitality industry is still down 100,000 jobs across the state. 500,000 people have been hired during the pandemic.

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