Wake County tourism booms. Officials remain optimistic even as COVID cases tick up

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The tourism numbers are in for Wake County, and they are good.

While not yet at pre pandemic levels, officials say they are at numbers they weren't predicting until at least 2022.

"We're optimistic," Executive Vice President for Visit Raleigh Loren Gold said. "The numbers continue to trend upwards and we continue to ride that great glide and we're going to see where the summer and fall get us."

Gold said COVID is still a concern for summer and tourism.

"I think it remains to be seen about where the numbers go," he said. "I think we continue to align tightly with the City of Raleigh, the county, and the state. They got us through the last two years and hopefully they'll get us through the tail ends of this."

Hotel occupancy in all of Wake County outpaced state and national averages for the first quarter of 2022.

Visit Raleigh said they had 92% occupancy during the Dreamville Festival in April.

Tax collections are also up 81% year to date over last year. Tax collection from food and beverage totaled $9 million so far this year, which is 27% more than this time last year.

"We're seeing about a sustained 60% occupancy which is really encouraging because we didn't expect it to come back as fast," said Karlee Tanel, director of sales and marketing at Hotel 83, which opened in February 2020.

They and other hotels say they haven't seen the full bounce back of business travelers just yet.

So far though, no major cancelations this summer over COVID concerns.

"Honestly everything has open especially for leisure travel mainly for weddings," Tanel said. "They're getting bigger than they were during the COVID year which is really encouraging."
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