GREENSBORO, N.C. — From the mountains to the sea, North Carolina has so much to explore. Nevertheless, the state's tourism industry took a huge hit over the past year because of the pandemic.
"We lost about $10.3 billion in visitor spending for the state and about 100,000 jobs," Wit Tuttell, the director of Visit North Carolina said.
These staggering numbers show just how much COVID-19 affected North Carolina's tourism industry. Not only are fewer people visiting our state, North Carolinians aren't traveling around it as much.
"What we want to do is get people comfortable with traveling because they haven't been comfortable, there's a lot of fear out there, which is understandable," Tuttell said. "So our idea is to start with some drive-thru vacations where you can enjoy the journey in your car as much as it vacation itself."
Visit North Carolina is encouraging people to go on trips to see our state through a car window, rear-view mirror, or even, back up camera. You can stay close to home...
"You can go to the worlds largest highboy dresser, largest chest of drawers and then there's the largest Duncan Phyfe chair all in one little trip," Tuttell said.
Or, you can make a trip two hours east...
"If you really do drive a couple of hours to Wilson, North Carolina, there's a place called the Wallis Simpson WhirlyGig Park and WhirlyGig's are these gigantic metal sculptures that spin and whirl in the wind," Tuttell said.
The hope is people will make stops along the way, grabbing take out from local restaurants and supporting North Carolina's many small businesses.
"You don't have to sacrifice your safety, you can still get out and have some fun," Tuttell said. "Get that vacation and help the economy at the same time and bring jobs back to the state but do it all in a safe and healthy way."
Tuttle said they've made it easy for people to find local businesses that are following COVID safety guidelines. Just go to countonmeNC.org for a list of places to visit on your drive-thru vacation.