EMERALD ISLE — When Carteret County occupancy tax revenue figures come in for June, the total for fiscal 2020-21 will “smash $10 million,” County Shore Protection Office Manager Greg Rudolph said Monday.
Speaking during a session of the County Beach Commission in the Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners’ meeting room and virtually via Zoom, Mr. Rudolph said 2020-21 will be the first fiscal year in which collections surpass that monumental mark.
It’s the result, he said, of an “eye popping 190% increase” in revenues for the first five months of the 2021 calendar year, compared to the first five months of 2020, which left the running total at $9.3 million at the end of May. Fiscal years run from July 1 through June 30.
By comparison, the total occupancy tax revenue for fiscal 2019-20 was $7.27 million, Mr. Rudolph told the commission.
Half of the county’s 6% tax on accommodations goes to the Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority for promotional efforts, while the other half goes to the county’s beach nourishment fund, which stood at $10 million at the end of May, despite the county paying out millions in the past 18 months for two major restoration projects.
“We’re probably going to be north of $20 million (in that fund) by the end of the summer,” Mr. Rudolph said. “It’s amazing, when you consider we’ve added 6 million cubic yards of sand” to Bogue Banks since Hurricane Florence in September 2018.
Beach commission member Woody Warren of Emerald Isle, co-owner of Bluewater Realty, said based on advance bookings, it’s clear visitation this summer will finish strong in August. And, he said, “going into fall it looks terrific, too.”
The record-setting uptick in occupancy tax revenue might be slightly influenced by new properties coming online, Mr. Warren said, but others have come off the books in recent months. Because many beach visitors book months in advance, he added, officials should be able to make projections about 2022 as early as September or October.
Beach commission member Larry Baldwin of Pine Knoll Shores said it was clear that during the coronavirus pandemic, which began affecting the area in March 2020, many people continued to come here, plenty of them deciding to ride out the pandemic at the beach while working remotely.
The big increase in tourism began last July, and set an all-time, any-month record of $2.41 million in occupancy tax revenue. Since then, every month has broken the record for respective monthly collections. Tourism officials and others widely anticipate that when June figures come in, they will set another monthly record, and July collections are expected to perhaps set another all-time, any-month record.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.