By Connie Leinbach
Hyde County is looking for more input from Ocracoke businesses about a possible Ocracoke Tourism Development Authority in a public meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (March 12) in the Ocracoke Community Center.
Kris Noble, the county planning and economic development director, presented a completed study on Ocracoke tourism promotion to the Hyde County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 2 and to the Ocracoke community at a public meeting of the Occupancy Tax Board Feb. 12 in the Ocracoke Community Center. About 20 islanders attended the latter meeting.
According to a Hyde County press release:
“Potential strategies for discussion include, but are not limited to, the creation of a tourism development authority, creation of a tourism advisory committee, increasing Ocracoke’s occupancy tax rate, contracting with professional marketing consultants, and improving collaboration between existing tourism promotion entities. Public comment is specifically sought from business owners and others involved with the lodging industry, tourism promotion, and the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association.”
“Tourism is the second largest job sector in Hyde County,” Noble said at the Feb. 12 meeting, “and tourism on Ocracoke is economic development.”
Yet there’s a lack of cohesive, full-time marketing of the island and the county.
State legislation passed in 2006 but never enacted allows for the creation of this authority that would be empowered to collect another 2 percent on the 3 percent that’s currently collected on all short-term lodging and cottage rentals. This tax is in addition to the 6.75 percent North Carolina sales tax.
This authority would fund the hiring of a full-time Hyde County employee devoted to tourism marketing among the various groups on the island and be a liaison to the mainland.
While this authority was scheduled to be approved at the March 2 county commissioners’ meeting so that the process of selecting a board, hiring an executive director and enacting the tax would be in place at the beginning of the next budget year July 1, comments from the public prompted a delay in this action.
A copy of the study including appendix is available here: http://hydecountync.gov/departments/planning_and_economic_development.php