Wake tourism 'looking very positive' with festivals, events returning

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Rudmans are some of the Triangle's newest transplants. The couple moved to North Carolina from Indianapolis last month and luckily arriving as the Capital City is coming back to life.

"We're grateful that people in charge are finding ways to make it safe for events like that to happen," said Laura Rudman.

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB) says tourism is on the upswing.

"It's definitely fun to have an outlet to meet people and not feel like you're cooped up in one single area anymore," said Drew Rudman.

Officials have really been trying to rebuild tourism.

GRCVB reports 38 percent of Wake County tourism jobs were lost in 2020.

Rehiring has begun as events are returning.

Hopscotch drew in the crowds and Brewgaloo this past weekend gave folks a reason to sip and sample.

IBMA Bluegrass Live! is happening in Downtown Raleigh the first weekend of October. Artsplosure, the North Carolina State Fair, and the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival are on the books for the coming month.

All of these gatherings boosting our local tax revenue.

"Any kind of festival, concert, football games - we'll take it," said GRCVB President Dennis Edwards.

Wake tourism was hit hard by the pandemic.

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More than 420 conventions, meetings and group sporting events were canceled, totaling almost $217 million dollars.

The latest data shows hotel lodging tax collections are up 18 percent since last year, and prepared food and beverage taxes shot up nearly 60 percent.

"Concert season has really helped out a lot as well. Most of our major concert venues are having two to the three concerts a week, which really help drive that hotel demand and even things like the NC State football game against Clemson this weekend. Clemson, we know, travels well," said Edwards.

The gatherings are not only improving our local economy, but leaving folks like the Rudman's feeling good about their new home.

"Raleigh's a little bit bigger so that's one of the reasons we're excited to be here (for ) events like this," said Laura Rudman.

GRCVB says corporate travel and conventions are still recouping. Officials are optimistic that they could return in early 2022.

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