'We're back in a big way': Raleigh Tourism celebrates strong start to 2023

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Monday, May 15, 2023
Raleigh Tourism celebrates strong start to 2023
Wake County's first-quarter tourism report is filled with data that shows continued growth.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Visit Raleigh is gearing up for a jammed packed summer. There more than 100 events over the course of the next few months, beginning with Artsplosure this weekend.

"We're back; we're back in a big way," said Artsplosure Creative Director Cameron Laws.

Nearly 200 artists will be descending on Downtown Raleigh and selling their unique pieces for the 44th annual Artsplosure Festival.

Organizers are expecting 80,000 people to come out and pump money into our economy.

"Our crowds certainly are coming back with a vengeance and that's really great to see because our whole thing is 'art for all' so we spend months planning this event for the community to come out," said Laws.

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Wake County just released its first quarter tourism report and it shows continued growth.

Large gatherings such as the AKA Mid-Atlantic Conference and the Stadium Series game both drew in more than 200,000 people.

Hotel tax collections neared $9 million through March, which is a 36 percent increase from a year ago. Food and beverage taxes totaled $10 million, which is almost a 17 percent increase.

The second quarter additionally is expected to be strong thanks largely the weekend-long Dreamville Festival.

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The Wake County Board of Commissioners has approved the use of $8.5 million of hospitality tax proceeds toward five sports and recreation projects.

GRCVB President and CEO Denny Edwrads said all of these events are helping to move along much-need, large scale projects.

There are plans to take two parking lots at the bottom of Fayetteville Street by the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center and morph them into a 500-room new convention center hotel.

"We've narrowed down the list of hotel developers," said Edwards.

Visit Raleigh will be making its recommendation to the Raleigh City Council next month.

"All of those projects are dependent on how well our tourism tax collections do, so having a quarter like that certainly puts us in a better position to move some of these projects forward," said Edwards.

He also said there are plans to make enhancements at PNC Arena.