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Hub-and-spokes plan targets tour groups, Washington to play

By Staff
key role in strategy for state’s northeast
By MIKE VOSS, Contributing Editor
Tourism is a big business in North Carolina. The Northeast Commission wants it to become ever bigger, especially in northeastern North Carolina.
To that end, the Northeast Commission has launched its “hub-and-spokes” strategy to attract tourists to the state’s northeast section. Washington will play a key role in that strategy, according to a commission news release.
Washington, Roanoke Rapids, Manteo and Elizabeth City have been designated as hubs for attracting motor-coach operators, tourism planners and travel writers to see and experience the region.
There’s more than being retail centers in the region that make the four municipalities logical choices as hubs, according to North Carolina’s Northeast officials.
Washington’s decision to market itself as the “heart of the Inner Banks” and its historical, cultural and natural resources makes it extremely attractive as a hub for tourists to use as a base from which to make excursions to nearby attractions and events, Rogerson said.
Lewis said the strategy will allow tour groups more flexibility. Group members staying at one of the four hubs for several days will be able to make several excursions to area attractions during each day they stay at the hub, returning each night to the hub during that stay, Lewis said. That approach will benefit the hubs and the places the groups visit, she said.
The NorthEast Tourism group will be working for several months to fully develop and promote the hub-and-spoke strategy.
Some of that work is nearing completion.
Tourism is a major industry in North Carolina. A study prepared for the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development by the Travel Industry Association shows that direct domestic traveler spending in North Carolina totaled $15.4 billion during 2006, an increase of 8.3 percent from 2005. These expenditures generated more than 187,000 travel-related jobs and almost $3.9 billion in payroll. All 100 counties in North Carolina showed growth in travel expenditures from 2005 to 2006.
North Carolina’s Northeast Commission’s mission is to increase the standard of living for residents in its 16-county region through tourism, industrial and business development. The 16 counties that comprise the regional commission are Beaufort, Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Martin, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington.