RALEIGH–Visitation was up in August 2012 over the previous year at nearly all North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources attractions, including a 43.6 percent increase over the previous August at N.C. Historic Sites, the Department reported today.
“North Carolina is known far and wide for its authentic cultural experiences,” said Cultural Resources Secretary Linda Carlisle. “Historic Sites and museums are great destinations for those important cultural and heritage travelers, who stay longer and spend more money in local economies.” Carlisle is a member of the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. She and her fellow board members advise the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the nation’s travel and tourism industry.
The largest percentage increase for August 2012 over the previous August, was Vance Birthplace in Weaverville, which posted a 182.6 percent increase. Fort Fisher in Kure Beach reported the highest attendance with 86,289 on-site visitors. All state-run history museums saw a rise in attendance; the largest percentage increase was the Museum of the Cape Fear, with a 58.2 percent rise in visitation. For state-run art museums, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem saw a 24.5 percent rise.
The news showcased a continuing upward trend in attendance at North Carolina historic sites and museums. Each summer, Cultural Resources showcases heritage, arts, and culture with its popular “2nd Saturdays” program in June, July, and August. Attendance at “2nd Saturdays” sites and venues has seen a 113 percent increase since the program began in 2010.
Carlisle implemented 2nd Saturdays in her first year as Secretary. The goal was to create a signature event for the Department in spite of limited marketing dollars.
Cultural Resources Assistant Secretary Jennifer Woodward reports that “2nd Saturdays” continues to have a big impact on monthly visitation numbers, as well as partnership opportunities. “Due to little or no funds for statewide marketing, we rely on local Tourism Development Authorities, CVBs and support groups to help us publicize our programs,” Woodward said. “We also have been working with organizations such as “Our State” magazine, the “N.C. News Network,” and “Carolina Parenting,” to showcase our new Web site and other initiatives from the Department. The good news is; it is working.”
One eastern North Carolina site, Historic Halifax, saw a 73 percent increase in August 2012, compared to the previous year. “This year the local Tourism Authority promoted area attractions to family reunions,” said Site Manager Monica Moody. “It was free publicity for us and quite an increase in visitation.”
The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council, and the State Archives. Cultural Resources champions North Carolina’s creative industry, which employs nearly 300,000 North Carolinians and contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy. To learn more, visit us online.