EMERALD ISLE — Carteret County’s record-setting tourism season continued through September, as occupancy tax revenues topped $1 million for the first ever for that month.
Greg Rudolph, manager of the county shore protection office, informed members of the Carteret County Beach Commission of the milestone in a report during the panel’s session Monday afternoon in the Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners’ meeting room and via Zoom.
“For September 2020, the total collection was $1,000,631, which not only breaks the record for this particular month – $720,343 in 2018 – but also signifies the first time ever the month of September has eclipsed the $1 million mark,” Mr. Rudolph told the commission, which advises his office.
The county’s beach nourishment fund receives half the proceeds from the occupancy tax, which is 6% of gross receipts derived from any room, lodging, campsite or accommodation furnished by any hotel, motel, inn, condominium, cottage, campground or rental agency. The Crystal Coast Tourism and Development Authority receives the other half of the revenue.
The eclipse of the $1 million mark means September is fourth month in which the occupancy tax revenue has exceeded $1 million, joining June, July and August, which have hit that mark many years. July has even exceeded $2 million.
Further, Mr. Rudolph said during the meeting Monday, the banner September means the season broke the all-time record for any year.
“We are sitting at $7,832,947 at the end of September and thus are 16.4 percent ahead of last year’s pace as it stands now,” he said. “Our highest ever total for an entire calendar year is $7,621,795 in 2018, meaning 2020 will easily break the $8 million mark for the calendar year and will also easily be our year-of-record in terms of occupancy tax collections.”
Mr. Rudolph and others have said they believe the novel coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions Gov. Roy Cooper imposed convinced more people than usual to stay close to home for vacations.
“Hopefully, those people will say, ‘Hey, that (Bogue Banks vacation) was nice, let’s go back to that place again,” beach commission Chairperson and Atlantic Beach Mayor Trace Cooper said after Mr. Rudolph’s report.
Another likely factor, the shore protection manager said, is that “more of the public is working remotely which allows them the freedom to spend time at destination locations, like the beaches of Carteret County. We should see this trend continue through the shoulder months and into the winter.”
Finally, Mr. Rudolph said, it appears the 2020 surge is “across the board” with respect to the hotel/motel, condo/cottage and “other” sectors. The “other” sector includes private rentals, such as those on Craigslist or Airbnb. That sector was up dramatically this season, “which makes intuitive sense as there are many visitors making last-minute, on-the-fly vacation or remote working/living plans based on the ever-changing COVID-19 situation,” Mr. Rudolph speculated.
Adding half of the occupancy tax for September left the beach nourishment fund at approximately $29 million after expenditures at the end of the month.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.