CARTERET COUNTY — As the summer season winds to a close, the Crystal Coast is preparing for a final hurrah ahead of the long Labor Day holiday weekend, which tourism officials expect to surpass last year’s record-breaking visitation numbers.
The prediction comes amid a recent regional surge in COVID-19 due to the delta variant of the coronavirus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends unvaccinated people not travel over the Labor Day holiday weekend and said those who do should wear face masks and follow other safety precautions.
Despite this, Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority Executive Director Jim Browder told the News-Times he anticipates a strong end to the traditional summer tourism season. He said advance bookings appear to be up from last Labor Day, which was one of the county’s strongest holidays on record.
“Everyone is approaching the weekend with caution because of COVID, but also with excitement,” Mr. Browder said Thursday.
Based on occupancy taxes collected from the county’s hotels, motels, vacation rentals and other temporary lodgings, the revenues of which are split 50/50 between the TDA and the County Shore Protection Office, Carteret County has experienced record-breaking tourism for more than a year. The numbers for June show it was the 13th consecutive month for which the monthly collection record was broken.
Mr. Browder expects that trend to continue for July numbers, which he said will be available soon.
“We don’t know the exact amount it’s gone up, …but we do believe it is up,” he said.
The large crowds are expected to bring high volumes of traffic on area roadways this weekend, so the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office shared the following traffic safety reminders with residents ahead of Labor Day:
· Always shift your attention every few seconds, constantly scanning the road ahead and behind you. Never blankly stare ahead nor fix your gaze on one point on the road.
· When passing an automobile, always glance at the ground beside the front wheel of the car you intend to pass. You will know instantly if the car is about to veer, giving you an extra few seconds to respond.
· You should pull out into the opposite lane of traffic when passing while you are still well behind the car in front. This should give you some time and space to build up speed and will enable you to pull back into your own lane should the need arise. Never cut abruptly out of your lane into the opposite lane when passing.
· Always signal your intentions with your brake lights, turn signals, horn and/or headlights so that other drivers will see you well before you change course.
· Drivers should always “aim high” in steering. That is, you should glance frequently at points well ahead of you. Not only will this help your steering, but it will also help you check the position of vehicles in front of you as well as oncoming ones.
· Never follow too close. Remember that, as your speed increases, it takes substantially longer to stop. Also remember that it’s good to have an extra cushion of space in front of you if you’re being tail-gated, on a slippery road or in low visibility conditions.
“Lastly, I would remind all motorists to practice the Golden Rule when driving. Be courteous and tolerant of other drivers. Please don’t get angry with bad drivers or reckless ones – just get out of their way,” Sheriff Asa Buck said in closing. “Let’s make this Labor Day weekend a safe one on the roads in Carteret County.”
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.