Tourism grows in Beaufort County despite some concerns - WRBL

Tourism grows in Beaufort County despite some concerns

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WASHINGTON, N.C. - With the arrival of warm weather comes tourist season for many areas in Eastern Carolina. One of those areas is in Washington.

Washington Mayor Mac Hodges knows just how important tourism is for the town.

"The economic future that the city can contribute to downtown areas is probably going to come in some form of tourism and there's a bunch of forms I can think of," said Hodges.

He says the town's restaurant scene is one of it's strong points when attracting tourist. But tourism officials in Washington say the lack of a downtown hotel really hurts them.

"When people are visiting our community, that's one of the things they're looking for," said Lynn Wingate, Washington Tourism Development Director. "They want that access, they want to be able to enjoy it very easily and without a hotel in our downtown area it's very difficult right now."

Mayor Hodges says the land where the old Hotel Louise currently sits on would be perfect. But he says that building has been empty for years.

Despite the lack of a downtown hotel, tourism in Beaufort County continues to grown, increasing from nearly $48 million in 2000, to bringing in over $71 million in 2012.

"Even if they're here for a day, weekend, staying at a cottage wherever they're staying, they're here and they're spending money in our local economy," said Wingate.

Although tourism numbers are up, Hodges is determined to see a hotel in the downtown area.

"It's one that everyone has worked on for 20 years but we are going to continue. Sooner or later it will work out," Hodges said.

For information on what you can do while you're in Washington, visit their tourism website.
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