Limited business hours on weekends could hinder Washington’s tourism growth

WASHINGTON, N.C.(WNCT) – The town of Washington is trying to recruit beach-goers to stay in its waterfront town.

During the weekend, many people like to spend their time out on the boardwalk. However, store owners say they need a good storefront to attract beach-goers’ attention.

Small Market Antique owner Pat Stegall said she would love to have every store front full in Washington. Her store is one of the few stores open seven days a week.

“We get lots of tourists that come through,” Stegall said. ”We’ve met lots of people and talked to them about the town.”

Stegall said some of them even end up living there.

Many of the stores and restaurants are open only six days a week. Stegall said her decision to stay open on Sunday in a town like Washington was beneficial.

“We have encouraged other people to try it,” Stegall said. “The problem is a lot of the businesses are one owner, and if they’ve worked six days during the week, they just want a day off.”

Washington Harbour District Alliance director John Butler said the town is known for its traditional family values. He said as Washington grows the lack of tourism will dissipate.

“We will be able to look for resources and employees to be able to make shops and restaurants so that the owners can take a break,” Butler said.

Stegall said she is looking forward to seeing all her surrounding businesses succeed.

“We are getting a new restaurant out on the waterfront that’s got that great deck that’ll be looking over the water so just the more people we get here it benefits everybody,” Stegall said.

The tourism director says town leaders are looking into stronger efforts in the coming months towards recruitment of businesses that match their town.

The Washington City Council is looking to put $20,000 into its capital improvement budget to give boaters internet access while at the dock.

Tourism development director Lynn Wingate said it will not only help boaters but will also give more people a reason to visit the town.

“Having Wi-Fi available in downtown Washington is going to be a benefit to everyone who visits here because everyone has a smart phone or tablet,” Wingate said.

As the city enters into the next stage of the budget process, it will decide whether to add Wi-Fi service.

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