History, tourism offering some hope

Published 10:53 pm Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bath resident Pat Mansfield is convinced she knows how to stimulate Beaufort County’s economy. Sit down with her for five minutes and you will be convinced, too.
Mansfield is one of the masterminds behind last year’s successful Pirate Parley on the Pamlico. She sits on the board of the Blackbeard Adventure Alliance. She said ecotourism could be the county’s untapped goldmine.
The competition for new industry is stiff, and Beaufort County is not without challenges when it comes to landing new manufacturers.
“Economic development for Beaufort County is not just going to come from the selling of new materials, and it can’t always come from agriculture,” she said.
Mansfield suggested turning “lemons into lemonade” by promoting the county’s rich history. Her suggestions included a maritime museum, re-enacting the famous discoveries of John Lawson and voyages of Blackbeard.
Mansfield also suggested that local communities work together to raise funds for her pet project: to build and operate a seagoing replica of Blackbeard’s tall ship Adventure.
Long before the project comes to fruition, Beaufort County can take advantage of its existing assets through a strong advertising campaign, self-directed and guided tours and annual events that relate to its maritime and pirate history.
One advantage of a strong ecotourism program would be to attract future residents. People will come for the attractions, and some will stay when they see all that Beaufort County has to offer.
The increase in tourism dollars will revitalize the local economy, preserve a rich history and promote community pride.