N.C. tourism leaders talk funding, laws at Greenville conference

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Hundreds of tourism leaders were in Greenville Monday to discuss how the state impacts the industry and why it’s vital to get more people to visit the Tar Heel state.

Countless attractions, from the mountains to the coast, contribute to North Carolina’s status as the sixth-most visited state in America.

But to continue that growth, tourism leaders like N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association president Lynn Minges say state funding for the industry must grow as well.

“Many of our competitor states have significantly stronger budgets that we have in North Carolina,” said Minges. “Our dollars have been tough in recent years but as North Carolina’s economy has improved we think it’s time to invest in tourism.”

Mingers said for every one dollar invested in tourism the state generates $15 in revenue.

During the legislative session, several bills have been filed that could impact tourism dollars, including Senate Bill 155, which could affect alcohol sales.

“It’s unique in that it would allow local municipalities to either adopt it, or they don’t have to have early Sunday sales,” Minges said. “It would be great because it would allow those restaurants that are open for brunch on Sunday mornings to serve alcohol.”

Many say legislature support for bills that would increase tourism dollars is vital.

Visit N.C. director Whit Tuttell said investing in tourism isn’t just about making North Carolina a fun place to visit, but it’s about supporting residents in the state.

“It’s really a business,” said Tuttell. “There’s about 50,000 businesses in North Carolina that are tourism businesses and most are small businesses, and they employ about 200,000 people across the state. So it’s really good for the economy when tourism does well.”

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