More of a good thing

Published 3:55 pm Sunday, April 19, 2009

By Staff
The usual crowd of about 3,000 people at Music in the Streets on Friday night and the influx of about 1,000 bicyclists in Washington this weekend for a Cycle North Carolina event should have provided a much-needed boost to the area’s economy.
It’s a boost that could and should happen as many weekends as possible, especially during the tourist season that runs from April through October in the region. There’s no doubt downtown restaurants and some businesses that stayed open late Friday night benefited from the Music in the Streets/Cycle North Carolina crowd.
Cycle North Carolina spokesman Chuck Hobgood said earlier this week the three-day visit by the cyclists and their friends and family should have an overall impact on the area’s economy in the neighborhood of $500,000.
Area lodging establishments will be filled with bicyclists. And whether the bicyclists are staying with local innkeepers, camping along the waterfront near the N.C. Estuarium or “camping” at the Washington Civic Center, many of them will eat meals at eateries.
That means restaurants beefed up their wait staffs and kitchen help, providing extra hours and extra money for waitresses, waiters, cooks and busboys.
Hobgood estimated that each bicyclist’s direct spending this weekend would be about $160, an amount he characterized as “conservative.” That computes to $160,000 for the three-day event.
Not bad at all.
A study commissioned by the Washington Development Tourism Authority of the 2006 Eastern Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships determined the three-day event had an economic impact of $162,240 on the local economy. That figure included $11,356 in total sales tax revenue, with the state’s share coming in at $7,300 and the county’s totaling $4,056.
And if Hobgood’s estimate is indeed conservative, perhaps the bicyclists’ direct economic impact this weekend likely will be closer to $200,000.
So, if you notice smiles on the faces of some area merchants, innkeepers and restaurant owners Monday, you’ll know why they are there.
Let’s hope we see more and more such smiles this tourist season — and beyond.