Onslow County looks to bring in military reunions to increase tourism

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)–During the off-season, coastal communities in eastern North Carolina can struggle to keep tourism numbers up.

It’s left them finding creative ways to draw people in.

Onslow County tourism leaders plan to capitalize on military reunions as a way to keep tourism numbers up during the offseason.

Tourism director for Onslow County, Kristen Loflin, said bringing in military reunions will hopefully drive up tourism numbers Monday through Thursday when they are needed most.

The Chamber of Commerce first realized military reunions could be the key after studying its numbers over the last year.

The county has a strong military connection and those with DoD access can also benefit by having access to the base.

“We are such a military friendly community,” Loflin said. “There are military discounts offered at all of our local businesses. We do have two hotels that actually have meeting spaces that can fit these reunions. And they like that it’s a one-stop shop they can stay in the hotel and go and have that banquet, meeting whatever they need downstairs.”

On top of military-related activities, Onslow County also offers activities at Onslow Beach, Hammocks Beach State Park, shopping in downtown Swansboro and distilleries.

Loflin says the goal is to not only attract Marine Corps reunions but to also attract army and other branches of service who might want to learn more about the Corps.

“A military reunion wants to go to a military town and sometimes they want to go to somewhere new because they’ve never gotten to experience it,” she said. “They may be used to Army bases throughout the country but they’ve never gotten to come to the Marine Corps base.”

There are at least five military reunions planned for this year alone.

Loflin and Chamber of Commerce staff are planning to attend a tourism trade show later this month to help them in the process.


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