RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The number of people visiting the city of Raleigh declined last year but the city has a plan to increase the numbers.
A new report shows Raleigh welcomed 12.9 million visitors last year, which is a nearly 30 percent decrease from 2019. It’s the first decrease in Wake County since the Great Recession of 2009.
However, Dennis Edwards CEO of Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau says things could’ve been worse.
“Overall, even though numbers were down we were somewhat pleasantly surprised and really glad we got through 2020 and are now looking forward to 2021,” said Edwards.
Visit Raleigh, the visitors bureau and city leaders are finding new ways to bring back visitors.
They are focused on several big events expected to draw crowds this summer.
“We actually have our first large convention at the end of this month with Galaxy Con they’re expecting over 7,500 attendees and then we have four conventions in the month of August, so we are optimistic that meetings and conventions are coming back at normal levels,” said Edwards.
However, with the COVID-19 Delta variant picking up steam, officials hope that won’t curb the new visitor momentum.
“Unfortunately, now we have a blueprint in terms of what to do if the pandemic hits again, hopefully we won’t have to dust that off and implement it again. I think we’re better prepared for a pandemic now and hopefully, we won’t see spikes like we’ve seen in the past because of that preparation,” said Edwards.
While the numbers were down for 2020 the city says they’re already seeing more visitors month to month this year.