There seem to be some basic misconceptions among some County leaders regarding our experience with tourism. The most common arguments we hear from the leaders who oppose tourism are as follows: “ We don’t like bicyclists and/or Moratock Park on a Saturday,; “Tourists come for a a day and leave and don’t spend any money. “ Tourism helps you but has nothing to do with me .” Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course, but these particular arguments are bogus in regards to what we on the front lines are seeing in tourism.
In 2014 Singletree Gun & Plough had 75 different groups staying with us from 25 NC cities, 15 states and five foreign countries. The Raleigh -Durham area was number one with 16 different groups. Our average guest group consists of four people ( we get groups as large as 30, but we are speaking of the average) who stay in a cabin for two nights, three days. Our typical guest is a professional couple who either has two children, or come with another couple. Each group easily spends $600+ in this County in addition to what they pay to stay with us.
Our average guest kayak/canoes, goes zip lining, tubing, and/or ride horses. They eat at the Dan River Restaurant, and Dario’s and Main Street Diner. They buy groceries at Danbury General and purchase something from Priddy’s. They go to the Green Heron and order dinner from Lulu’s.
Our guests usually spend one day at Hanging Rock State Park, and then two days out and about “Around the Rock, ” i.e., outside the Park, spending money.
We have never had a group of bicyclists stay with us. Never.
We have never had one guest go to Moratock Park on a Saturday. Never.
Our clientele, and that of the other Lodging concerns, are educated, well traveled, broad minded individuals who are interested in supporting the local “Mom & Pop’s” while enjoying the authentic flavor of a true rural County. They appreciate the area and are fascinated with the local culture. They are respectful of the land and native population and thrilled to be here. Because of the grass roots lodging industry that has grown up around the Park, tourists stay several days (we all have 2 night minimums). They shop. They buy. They eat. They play. They spend their money here, in this County, and go home and tell their friends.
Tourists directly support at least 50 businesses in Stokes County. All the obvious tourist businesses as well as grocery stores, restaurants, produce stands, shops in King, and shops in Walnut Cove. Indirectly tourism supports farmers, builders, electricians, plumbers, hardware stores, accountants, sign makers, etc.. In fact, it is hard to think of a business that doesn’t benefit from tourism. Tourism dollars go far, much further then the initial businesses where the money is spent.
Tourist dollars come in from outside, are dropped here, and multiply. In fact, it is called the “multiplier effect.” The government coffers are increased by the taxes from each transaction. To say only the owners of Tourism businesses benefit from tourism money shows a complete misunderstanding of capitalism. (In fact it shows such an astonishing lack of knowledge of how local economies work— well one just marvels.)
Singletree does not run to capacity and has not since it opened. None of the vacation rental properties run to capacity. Nor do any of the 50 some businesses directly dependent on tourism. I imagine every business in Stokes County would like to see growth in revenue. What can fuel that increase in income is tourism. There is HUGE potential in the tourism industry, we have hardly begun to tap the massive reservoir of the billion dollar outdoor recreational industry.
The key to increased tax revenue, to boost the local economy, to keep our kids here with good paying jobs — is more tourists of the caliber those of us in Lodging are attracting. To get these tourists we need advertising. And to get that advertising we need the County to increase the marketing budget to $100,000.00 which is 1/4 of 1% of the County budget.
This County has been blessed with Mountains, AND a River AND a nationally ranked State Park— it is high time to use these gifts for the benefit of all its citizens.
Johannah H Stern
Singletree Gun & Plough