'There are things to do in Wake County': Raleigh touts downtown business

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- There are many spots in Downtown Raleigh still boarded up. It's hard to know who's accepting customers. You usually have to call ahead to make sure. But now, there's a renewed effort to remind folks that the City of Oaks is open for business.

Visit Raleigh is launching a recovery campaign and using a $1.25 million grant from the CARES Act for the effort.

"Our restaurants are open, museums are open, even our bars now to limited capacity are open. So there are things to do in Wake County," said Visit Raleigh President and CEO Dennis Edwards.

Sales are usually steady at 42nd & Lawrence coffee shop on beautiful fall days like we're seeing this week.



"People come out (and are) enjoying our patio, drinking some wine, drinking some coffee out there," said 42nd & Lawrence manager Tim Morris.

The problem is that revenue isn't always consistent.

Morris said that his and every other spot in downtown Raleigh could use more visitors, especially since most people are still working from home.

"Anything we can do to get more people and out about would be great for us," Morris said.

The tourism industry has taken a beating during the pandemic, with 280 conventions, meetings, and group sporting events canceled.

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Hotel Lodging taxes plummeted more than $10 million. That's a 50 percent drop from the same time last year.

Prepared Food and Beverage tax collections dropped more than 25 percent.

Visit Raleigh is hoping the campaign puts the Capital City back on the map as a destination.

"It's going to be a slow road, particularly the rest of this calendar year for sure," Edwards said.

Visit Raleigh is also working on virtual trade shows to lock in conventions or gatherings for future events.
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