Muscle cars, celestial events, anniversaries and PGA Golf – the Old North State has a busy 2017 planned
As a destination, North Carolina already successfully leverages its culture, mountains, beaches, forests and cities to make tourism one of its largest industries. In 2015, domestic travellers spent a record $21.9billion across the state, a 3% increase over 2014. 54.6 million people visited North Carolina in 2015, which sees it ranked sixth, nationally, in visitation. The Southern state – known affectionately as The Old North State – can expect an upsurge this year as it has a range of events and special occasions in 2017.
The world’s first museum solely dedicated to the classic Ford Mustang car is due to open in Concord this Autumn, a fitting attraction for the state that is nicknamed the Home Of NASCAR thanks to Charlotte Motor Speedway. Before that, a solar eclipse will reach totality over the Great Smoky Mountains on August 21. Both events could provide a significant pull for tourists new to the state, likewise the return of the PGA Championship to North Carolina in the summer for the third time in its 101 year history.
An eclectic mix of anniversaries also align in 2017, including: 40 years of the legendary hiking route, the Mountains- To-Sea Trail; 200 years of Bald Head Island Lighthouse – ‘Old Baldy’ the state’s oldest standing lighthouse; 50 years of the Baldwin-Reynolds House Museum Of American Art, which houses one of the finest collections of art in the country; and 30 years since the cult film ‘Dirty Dancing’ made Lake Lure an iconic movie location. Events commemorating each of these will also boost inbound tourism from a range of sectors. Another major attraction celebrating North Carolina’s rich heritage is due to open Memorial Day weekend – the H2OBX Waterpark near Kitty Hawk will be the largest commercial attraction on the Outer Banks and is themed to recognise the impact of aviation pioneers the Wright Brothers, on the site where they successfully flew the first aeroplane in 1903. This perfect storm of eyecatching attractions and events will, tourism agency Visit North Carolina hopes, deliver another record-breaking year for tourism.