Popular Piedmont tourism attractions could see big bucks

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Tourism experts say North Carolina ranks sixth in the country when it comes to most visited states.

Experts say the travel and tourism industry for the Triad portion of the state brings in about $2.8 billion in economic business and employs 25,000 people locally.

The North Carolina Zoo and the Piedmont State Parks could see some big bucks if a $2 billion bond proposal being reviewed in the North Carolina General Assembly makes its way to the March ballot for voters.

The proposal includes giving money to University of North Carolina campuses for construction, distributing funds to community colleges and also giving money to state parks and the North Carolina Zoo.

The proposed bond is being reviewed in the Senate. Senate leaders will vote on Thursday to decide if it should be on the March ballot.

Next week, the House will vote on the proposal. If allowed on the March 2016 ballot and passed by voters, money would be disbursed shortly after.

State parks would receive $75 million. For the Piedmont, that would mean upgrades to Haw River State Park, Pilot Mountain State Park, Hanging Rock State Park and Mayo River State Park.

The proposal gives the North Carolina Zoo located in Asheboro $25 million. The zoo is more than 40 years old and the director says they would benefit from the money. They currently receive funding from the state, the business’ daily earnings and from donors. The extra money would allow for them to replace their African Pavilion Exhibit, that was built in the 80s, and launch a new “Austral-Asia” exhibit.

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