NCVRMA

NCVRMA Update

April 2017:

School Calendar Bills Pass the NC House of Representatives

On Thursday, a pair of bills allowing more local flexibility for determining school start date passed the NC House of Representatives. HB 375 – School Calendar Flexibility/Community College was offered by Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson). Rep. McGrady noted that he supports the tourism industry and wants to protect the calendar law. However, he wants to seek compromise and views the alignment of the public school and community college start dates as a way to compromise. HB 375 would allow LEAs to start school as early as August 14th to align their calendar with the community college system. After significant debate, the bill passed by a vote of 100-8.

Similarly, HB 389 - School Calendar Flexibility Pilot Program was offered by Rep. Harry Warren (R-Rowan). HB 389 authorizes a three-year pilot program authorizing 20 counties to start school as early as August 10th. The goal of this pilot program, according to Rep. Warren, would be to collect data on student achievement and impact on the tourism industry. HB 389 passed by a vote of 104-6.

Rep. Iler (R-Brunswick) and Rep. McElraft (R-Carteret) were outspoken supporters of the calendar law and the tourism industry throughout the debate of the two bills. They both noted the negative economic impact it would have on the tourism industry if August break was shortened. Rep. McElraft cited the significant increase in tourism spending, tax revenue and payroll taxes after the calendar law went into effect in 2004. She also cited the Elon University and High Point University polls conducted this Fall that indicate a majority of voters prefer school to start in late August or even after Labor Day. McElraft went on to discuss how local control was really about the wishes of the parents and teachers, not the school boards.

Many legislators spoke in favor of changing the calendar law to allow for local control and flexibility. Many said they thought this issue was about education, not the economy or the tourism industry.

HB 375 and HB 389 now head to the Senate for consideration. We are hopeful our champions in the Senate continue to protect the school calendar law.

November 2016:

School Calendar Law

NCVRMA solicits feedback on the School Calendar Law options.  Please email Trisha with your response: trishah@bhisland.com.

NC GAncgaPROGRAM EVALUATION DIVISION

NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY

NCGA

Options for Modifying the School Calendar Law

School Calendar Law (G.S. § 115C-84.2(d)). The law mandates that the opening day of school for students may not be earlier than the Monday closest to August 26th and closing day of school for students may not be later than the Friday closest to June 11th.

The following options would modify different aspects of the current school calendar law:

OPTION A: Same Start Date; No End Date. Eliminate the requirement that the closing date of school must be the Friday closest to June 11th. This option allows flexibility for scheduling make-up days at the end of the school year and meeting the instructional time required by state law. The summer break for most school districts would remain around 10 weeks. School districts needing more make-up days to meet the instructional time required by state law may have a shorter summer break. However, the current law already allows districts to extend the school year to meet instructional time standards

OPTION B: Start Monday Closest to 8/24; Same End Date. Move the earliest opening date of school to the Monday closest to August 24th instead of August 26th with no change to the closing date. This option ensures that the school calendar time period consistently has 210 workdays. The summer break would remain at 10 weeks.

OPTION C: Start Monday Closest to 8/19; Same End Date. Move the earliest opening date of school to Monday closest to August 19th instead of August 26th with no change to the closing date. This option increases the number of workdays for most school years by five days, allows flexibility for scheduling make-up days, allows flexibility to schedule teacher work days, and meets the instructional time required by state law. The summer break would be 9 to 10 weeks depending on what day of the week August 19th occurs.

OPTION D: Start 8/10; End by 5/31. Move the opening date of school to no earlier than August 10th and closing date to no later than May 31st. This option ensures that the school calendar time has 210 to 212 workdays, allows scheduling final exams before winter break for the fall semester, aligns with the community college schedule, and provides for the possibility of school starting on a day other than Monday and ending on a weekday other than Friday. The summer break would be 10 weeks.

OPTION E: Align with Community College Calendars. Regardless of the school opening and closing dates currently in state law, allow LEAs to align their school opening and closing dates for any school with the opening and closing dates of a community college serving the city or county in which the unit is located. This option allows alignment with the community college schedule. Community colleges cannot start the fall semester before August 15th. The summer break should be at least 10 weeks for most school districts if the school year ends by May 31st.

OPTION F: Allow Education Purpose Waivers. Restore the State Board of Education’s authority to approve a waiver to the school calendar law for an educational purpose. The term "educational purpose" would mean a LEA establishes a need to adopt a different calendar for (i) a specific school to accommodate a special program offered generally to the student body of that school, (ii) a school that primarily serves a special population of students, or (iii) a defined program within a school. The State Board would be authorized to grant the waiver for an educational purpose for that specific school or defined program to the extent that the State Board finds that the educational purpose is reasonable, the accommodation is necessary to accomplish the educational purpose, and the request is not an attempt to circumvent the opening and closing dates set forth in the school calendar law. The waiver requests for educational purposes could not be used to accommodate system-wide class scheduling preferences. This option allows LEAs to request an educational purpose waiver to the school calendar law for specific schools that meet the criteria in the law. This option only applies to specific schools, so the summer break would be 10 or 11 weeks for most schools within a district.

Stakeholders

Current Law

Option A

Option B

Option C

Option D

Option E

Option F

After Labor Day

Travel and Tourism Industry Organizations

Hospitality Alliance of North Carolina

x

North Carolina Association of Realtors

x

North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association

x

North Carolina Travel and Tourism Coalition

x

North Carolina Travel Industry Association

x

x

North Carolina Vacation Rental Managers Association

x

Description of School Calendar Options

Current Law. School starts no earlier than Monday closest to August 26th and ends no later than the Friday closest to June 11th.

Option A. School starts no earlier than Monday closest to August 26th with no specified end date.

Option B. School starts the Monday closest to August 24th and ends no later than the Friday closest to June 11th.

Option C. School starts the Monday closest to August 19th and ends no later than the Friday closest to June 11th.

Option D. School starts no earlier than August 10th and ends no later than May 31st.

Option E. School starts no earlier than August 15th and ends no later than May 31st to allow alignment with community college schedule.

Option F. Restore State Board of Education authority to approve a waiver to the school calendar law for an educational purpose for specific school or defined program.

After Labor Day. School starts no earlier than the Tuesday after Labor Day with no specified end date.

 

Organization Name

Organization Description

Travel and Tourism Industry Organizations

Hospitality Alliance of North Carolina

This organization represents hotel companies in North Carolina who are interested in how the school calendar affects their business.

North Carolina Association of Realtors

This organization represents realtors who are interested in how the school calendar affects their business.

North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association

This organization represents the hospitality industry which is interested in how the school calendar affects their business.

North Carolina Travel and Tourism Coalition

This organization represents professional sports teams, resorts, attractions, convention and visitors bureaus, and other businesses who are interested in how the school calendar affects their business.

North Carolina Vacation Rental Managers Association

This organization represents management companies and their affiliates that specialize in vacation rental management who are interested in how the school calendar affects their business.

June 18th:

North Carolina News

Flood Insurance Update (Source: NCAR Bi-Weekly Government Affairs Update)
The Senate continued to debate legislation (H.R. 4213) that includes a year-long extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Since the bill also includes a number of contentious issues, Senate leaders continue to work to find the 60 votes needed for passage. Any changes made to the bill by the Senate will require the House to approve the modified measure.

Since June 1, 2010, the NFIP has not had statutory authority to issue new or renewal flood insurance policies, which are required for mortgages in the 100-year floodplain. NAR has been urging Congress not to wait for agreement on the larger package and immediately pass the NFIP extension provision as separate legislation, and has issued an all-member Call for Action to keep up the pressure. We would encourage you to write your members of Congress; just click on the link below to "Take Action Now!"

Meanwhile, various lending authorities (FEMA, Fannie, Freddie, etc.) have issued guidance describing the documentation they will accept as proof of flood insurance purchase while the NFIP is shutdown. Visit the following links to download the guidance documents, which you can take with you and cite to your lender: Flood Insurance Update, Take Action Now! and Visit NAR's Homepage on Natural Disaster/Flood Insurance.

NC Green Travel (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
For many accommodations and attractions, hot summer temperatures means turning on air conditioners to keep guests cool and comfortable. But air conditioners, which use 27 percent of a hotel's annual electricity despite only being used part of year, can be a big drain on your operating budget. Although you cannot control the temperature outside, there are a number of easy ways you can help keep your building cooler when it gets hot. Typical lighting emits about 90 percent heat and only 10 percent light, so only turning it on when needed or using cooler temperature energy efficient lighting can help keep things cooler. And using fans can make a room feel 3 - 5 degrees cooler. But remember they only help the room feel cooler, so be sure to turn them off if the area is not occupied. Training your staff to operate thermostats correctly can help ensure proper temperature settings. If possible, you might also consider scheduling work that gives off heat, such as laundry and baking, to cooler times of the day. Click here for more tips on staying cool during the summer or contact Tom Rhodes at tom.rhodes@ncdenr.gov. For more information on sustainable tourism, contact Alex Naar at (252) 737-1346 or via anaar@nccommerce.com.

Gulf Oil Spill - NC Response Plan (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
Oil from the Gulf Coast spill is not expected to reach the shores of North Carolina, but in the event that it does, the state will be ready, Gov. Bev Perdue said during a briefing for legislative and local government leaders Tuesday. "We have no reason to believe that any oil is coming to our coast," Perdue said. "We are prepared and will always be prepared for the very worst and hope for the very best." Assistant Sec. Lynn Minges also spoke at the briefing, saying that visitors to the coastal region of North Carolina typically spend more than $1.4 billion between Memorial Day and Labor Day or approximately $15.6 million per day. For a sampling of media coverage of the briefing, visit www.wral.com/news/slate/story/7785342, triangle.news14.com/content/top_stories/627120/perdue-briefs-local--state-officials-on-state-s-oil-spill-plan or www.newsobserver.com/2010/06/15/534343/perdue-nc-is-prepared-for-oil.html#ixzz0qwymsdLV.

The Division of Tourism, along with numerous other state agencies, continues to carefully monitor the situation and the response of tourism partner organizations in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. On a daily basis, the Division is monitoring media clips, advertising campaigns and placements, public relations strategies, and tourism industry relations and communications in each of the affected states. Additionally, the Division is collaborating closely with East Coast state tourism partners in the states of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina to monitor trends and intended responses should the need arise.

Recent news reports have pointed out that public perception of the risk to beaches poses as much of a problem to affected states' economies as the current actual impact. The threatened states have been actively promoting that they are open for business, and several communities have been creatively using live webcams and date-stamped images of their beaches on digital billboards in major markets to remind travelers their beaches remain clean.

The Division has been working hard to keep N.C. tourism partners informed regarding statewide action monitoring the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the possibility of it impacting North Carolina. A workgroup of around 50 tourism industry leaders - including representatives from each of the tourism destination marketing organizations along our coast, regional economic development agencies, tourism-related businesses, members of the N.C. Travel and Tourism Board, and members of the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association - have participated in regular conference calls and briefings.

Response from those participating in these briefings indicate that there have been very few adverse indicators of booking cancellations or concerns from potential visitors. The Division has been actively monitoring inquiries at 1-800-VISITNC and traffic on VisitNC.com. To date, the Division has not received any calls or inquiries expressing concern about travel plans. The Division will continue to communicate with and to monitor feedback from tourism-related businesses along the coast.

Minges and the Division's Director of Tourism Marketing Wit Tuttell have participated in roundtable discussions and briefings hosted by the North Carolina's Division of Emergency Management and Governor Perdue. Minges has also participated in briefings for legislative leaders, media and local governments. The Division of Emergency Management, the Governor and state agencies, including the Division of Tourism, have a crisis plan that deals with situations that can occur due to natural or manmade incidents that impact the state. The state does not anticipate having to activate this plan due to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is there if needed.

The Division and many of its coastal tourism partners began fielding calls from media outlets two weeks ago about the possible impact on North Carolina's tourism industry if the Gulf of Mexico oil spill eventually flows to the N.C. coast. These questions were prompted as a result of the model cited in stories postulating a North Carolina landfall, possibly as early as July. It is important to explain that the model was not actually examining the current oil content of the Gulf, but was based on the performance of liquid dye, which does not degrade and is the same fluidity as water; experts point out that oil behaves very differently.

Below is a statement drafted for use by tourism industry leaders and businesses to respond to both the media and visitors about North Carolina's beaches. The key fact is that the U.S. Coast Guard, which is the lead agency in oil spill response in coastal waters, has said that there is only a remote chance that oil will make its way to the North Carolina coast.

This is the Division's statement on the situation:

North Carolina's Division of Emergency Management, the Governor and state agencies, including the N.C. Division of Tourism, have a crisis plan that deals with situations that can occur due to natural or manmade incidents that impact our coast. We do not anticipate having to activate this plan due to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is there if needed. We are in regular contact with the Governor's Office, the N.C. Dept. of Crime Control and Public Safety and the Division of Emergency Management to update this plan and monitor the spill. The U.S. Coast Guard, which is the lead agency in oil spill response in coastal waters, has said that there is only a remote chance that oil will make its way to the North Carolina coast.

If asked, the model cited in recent stories was based on liquid dye, which does not degrade and is the same fluidity as water, experts point out that oil behaves very differently. Frankly, we anticipate a strong summer for tourism to North Carolina's coast as the nation's economy recovers. We encourage everyone to use VisitNC to plan and book their vacation. If anything changes, we will update our website accordingly.

March 30th:

North Carolina News

Real Estate Commission Executive Director
Executive Director Phil Fisher has retired from the NC Real Estate Commission, effective April 1, 2010. The Commission is currently interviewing potential candidates to be the next Executive Director. Phil has been with the REC for 34 years and is an invaluable resource and wonderful Executive Director whom we will miss working with greatly. While no one can replace Phil, we are confident the Commissioners made an excellent decision when they chose Miriam Baer as his successor. Miriam has worked for the REC since 1987, starting as the first Examination Coordinator before joining the Commission’s legal staff where she became Legal Counsel and Assistant Director of its Legal Services Division. Miriam is a native of Lawrence, Kansas, graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Kansas and received her J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1984. Congratulations to Phil and Miriam!

Terminal Groins (Source: NCAR Bi-Weekly Government Affairs Update)
On Thursday, March 25th the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) recommended that specific considerations be met if the General Assembly were to allow the installation of terminal groins. This recommendation comes after the CRC commissioned a study by an engineering firm on the feasibility and advisability of the use of terminal groins as erosion control devices. Current North Carolina law prohibits permanent erosion control structures on North Carolina’s ocean and inlet shorelines and any change in that law would require action by the General Assembly. A bill to allow terminal groins was adopted by the Senate last year but stalled in the House. This legislation will be eligible to be revisited during the legislative session that starts in May. Click here to view the press release from the CRC.

Asheville Makes Barron's: Top 10 Vacation-Home Spots (Source: NCAR Bi-Weekly Government Affairs Update)
Kudos to Asheville which was the number 9 destination for second homes in Barron Magazine’s Top 10 Destinations for upscale vacation homes. Last week's cover featured the 10 locations based on the "gorgeous houses, spectacular views, world-class golf, fishing and skiing, fine dining and great shopping." The article reports that discounts of up to 40% in some markets have brought resurgence in the market for upscale vacation homes. That along with a stabilizing economy has begun to attract the wealthy. The locations are further broken down by the median home price, the drop from peak median price, and most well-known resident or visitor which they refer to as "neighbor." Andie McDowell has that designation in Asheville.

N.C. Division of Tourism, Film & Sports Development 2010-2011 Marketing Plan (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
Assistant Secretary Lynn Minges will review the last year’s achievements and unveil the Division’s marketing and co-op advertising program for 2010-2011 before hundreds of tourism, business and government leaders from across North Carolina at the N.C. Governor’s Conference on Hospitality & Tourism next week. The conference is being held March 21-23 in the state’s colonial capital, New Bern, which is celebrating its 300th anniversary throughout this year.

The 2010 Governor’s Conference focuses on how to continue growing the state’s tourism industry, despite a down economy. This premier educational and networking event for the state’s tourism professionals brings together representatives from chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus, attractions, historic sites, the lodging and restaurant industry, and state and local governments. More than 350 people are registered to attend the event. The conference includes keynote speakers, breakout sessions on public relations and working with the media, social media, tourism development, sports marketing, sustainability and a national policy update with a focus on the major issues facing the tourism industry at the local, state and federal levels. “In these trying economic times, our goal is to equip tourism leaders with the marketing savvy they need to hold market share,” says Minges. “We have carefully selected exceptional speakers and programs to help North Carolina businesses make the most of the coming year.”

In addition to the outstanding lineup of speakers, highlights include:

  • The Winner’s Circle Luncheon on Monday, with the industry recognizing three leaders whose careers have had a major impact on the tourism industry in North Carolina.
  • The networking session with media advertising sponsors during the Exhibitor Tradeshow on Monday, March 22, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. During this hour-long session, partners can meet with key media advertising representatives to discuss their needs or questions.
  • The Partner Marketing Programs One-on-One session scheduled for Tuesday, March 23, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. In this session, the VisitNC and print/online cooperative advertising programs will be discussed in detail, allowing for questions and custom program development. This year, opportunities include a range of themes like Family Travel, Culture & Heritage, Civil War, and Weddings. Check out which packages are the best fit for your destination. If you attend this session and fill out a short survey, you will be entered to win a free co-op print and e-blast package, worth up to $4,500.

Click here to review the full agenda and learn more about the conference. Online registration for the conference has closed but registration at the door is encouraged.

California Mission (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
Gov. Bev Perdue is lead North Carolina delegation on a film missionto California, March 17-19. The governor, Sec. Keith Crisco, Assistant Sec. Lynn Minges, N.C. Film Office Director Aaron Syrett and other members of the delegation will meet with representatives from major studios. ABC Studios, Dino De Laurentiis Company, Disney, DreamWorks, NBC, Sony Pictures, 20thCentury Fox, Universal and Warner Brothers have scheduled meetings with the group to discuss filming projects in North Carolina. The North Carolina delegation also includes NC film industry leaders, members of the N.C. Film Council and members of four in-state regional film commissions.

In addition to promoting North Carolina as the ideal setting for film projects – for location, talent/crew foundation and general industry familiarity – the group will emphasize the new 25 percent film incentive, which went into effect in January.The governor is hosting an evening reception, sponsored by several film industry leaders in the state and Friends of North Carolina, which will allow the delegation an additional opportunity to meet with film industry executives and decision-makers including guests thathave North Carolina connections.

Biltmore Estate Expansion (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
Biltmore Estate officially opened its Antler Hill Village March 19th.Antler Hill Village is the largest expansion since 2004 and the opening of River Bend farm, which has been renamed Antler Hill Farm.Admission to Antler Hill Village will be part of the regular Biltmore Estate admission. Last month, the estate held a job fair to hire 120 new employees. The 15-acre site includes a restaurant and pub, ice cream shop, retail space and exposition hall in addition to a new entrance to the winery.Click here to find out more.

Airline and Airport News (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

  • US Airways Adds Flights from Canada & Mexico to CLT – US Airways will begin daily service from Ottawa, Canada, to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) on May 31. In addition, flights from Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos, in Mexico, to CLT begin June 5. Click here to find out more.
  • U.S. Travel Association Panel to Study Customer-Friendly Security for Airports – The U.S. Travel Association has formed a “Blue Ribbon Panel for Frictionless Security” to create a vision for the world’s most secure, efficient and customer-friendly air travel security screening process.The group, formed on the heels of the attempted Christmas Day bombing, features prominent security and facilitation experts, including Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security; Robert Crandall, former president and CEO of American Airlines; Jim Turner, former Democratic congressman and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee; Dave Bronzek, president and CEO of FedEx Express; and Sam Gilliland, president and CEO of Sabre Holdings. The panel also includes experts in aviation security, queuing, technology, privacy and economics.Recent research reveals growing traveler frustration with the air travel security screening process and a significant negative economic impact from fewer travelers flying due to unnecessary “hassles.”Click here to find out more.

What To Do About Rising Gas Prices (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
As reported earlier this month, gas prices are expected to rise in the coming weeks. To prepare for the impact of rising fuel prices, there are a number of green practices you can implement to reduce your company’s fuel expenses, help guests use less gas once they arrive, and protect the environment.One simple step is to make sure your company’s vehicles are running as efficiently as possible, which can be as simple as maintaining correct tire pressure.Direct staff to reduce unnecessary idling.Another increasingly popular gas reducing practice is to provide bicycles for guests’ use along with information on bike-able and walk-able activities in the area (often available from your CVB or Chamber, local government’s planning office, or parks and recreation department).A growing number of destinations are striving to provide guests a vacation from their cars – even Google is adding a bike lane with its latest online mapping option (http://googlemapsbikethere.org/). For more information on becoming a more fuel efficient destination, visit http://ncprojectgreen.com/transportation/home.asp and www.travelgreen.org/industry_landing.htm?select_industry1_id=21 or contact Tom Rhodes at tom.rhodes@ncdenr.gov.Click here for more information on moving about car-free in North Carolina; for an amusing way to estimate your destination’s walk-ability score, click here. And for more information on sustainable tourism, contact Alex Naar at (252) 737-1346 or via anaar@nccommerce.com.

Tax Battle for Hotels (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
Another major battle is being quietly waged between the online travel companies (OTC) and the major hotel companies. Dubbed the Travel Intermediary Booking Tax, it’s once again causing extreme contention between the sides.According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), OTCs, such as Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, and hotels.com, have long paid occupancy taxes to the local taxing jurisdictions based on their discounted rate rather than the advertised rate purchased by the customer through their service.Cash-starved local jurisdictions want to collect occupancy taxes based on the retail value of a room, not what it was actually sold for. That means hungry municipalities are looking to collect that difference between what they perceive what the room was sold for and what it was actually sold for by the OTC. And the AHLA is worried its hoteliers that are going to have to make up the difference either directly or through the increase of other taxes such as real estate taxes.Here’s an example. If the XYZ hotel sells a room directly for $100 and is located in an area with a 10 percent occupancy tax, $10 is paid on that room. If that same room is sold on an OTC site for a $100, only $80 of that is for the room. The remaining $20 is commission and service fees, meaning only $8 in occupancy taxes are generated.Click here to find out more.

November 30th:

LEGISLATIVE News

Update on Home Energy Labeling Proposals (Source: NCAR Bi-Weekly Government Affairs Update)
The Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) approved climate change legislation (S. 1733) that does not include the real estate energy labeling opposed by NAR. Eleven of 12 Democrats — a majority of the panel's 19 members — voted to advance the bill without amendment and with no Republicans present. Republicans had requested full EPA economic impact analysis of the bill before participating in a markup.

The EPW vote represents another in a long series of steps that are required before the full Senate may take up omnibus energy legislation. Several other committees have or are expected to produce bills which Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will then combine into one measure and submit to EPA for several weeks of analysis. In addition, Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) have outlined a set of principles and are working with other senators to develop a bipartisan compromise that moves legislation forward. NAR will continue to monitor Senate energy legislation and work to maintain the real estate exclusions in the House bill (H.R. 2454) from energy labeling or other programs that would directly impact the real estate sector.

Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden recently announced a new "Recovery Through Retrofit" initiative that includes creation of "energy performance labels" and "national energy performance measures" for existing homes, despite the fact that the House Energy Bill (H.R. 2454) exempted those homes as well existing multi-family and commercial buildings from energy labeling under the bill. NAR President Charles McMillan wrote the White House and the heads of all Federal departments involved in the labeling initiative, requesting an immediate meeting to share our strong concerns about the stigmatizing effects of these labels on real estate at one of the most critical moments in the nation's economic recovery. President McMillan's letter is linked: Read President McMillan's Letter.

North Carolina News

Service Tax (Source: NCAR Bi-Weekly Government Affairs Update)
The NC House and Senate Finance Committees met again last week to consider how to restructure the state tax code and their meeting focused on taxing professional and consumption services. Speakers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University were of the same mindset – that more services needed to be taxed and the overall tax rates should be lowered. Dr. Smith from UNC-CH stressed the volatility of sales tax revenues during economic ups and downs. His projections were that the uses of certain services are not as volatile and would be better revenue constants. Dr. Sawyers from NC State maintained that the sales tax on goods was a regressive tax and that NC should consider taxing at least some services to be more “fair and equitable.” He did not say what services should be taxed but said that is ultimately a decision the General Assembly would have to make.

The next meeting will take place on December 1, 2009. At that meeting, the committees will hear from officials in states that have taxed services as part of their tax structure. NCAR Government Affairs staff will continue to attend the meetings and monitor the discussions surrounding taxing services.

NC Film Industry New (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

  • N.C. Film Council Reauthorized - Assistant Sec. Lynn Minges and N.C. Film Office Director Aaron Syrett were on hand when Gov. Bev Perdue signed an executive order reauthorizing the N.C. Film Council. Perdue signed the order last Thursday at EUE Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington. The N.C. Film Council advises the governor on film industry matters and serves as a forum for film-making concerns and recommendations. In addition to reestablishing the council, the new executive order will add duties for council members:
    • Assist in ongoing development and growth of the N.C. film industry.
    • Support fiscal incentives that help North Carolina remain competitive in recruiting films.
    • Assist in developing a marketing strategy for the N.C. Film Office.
    • Monitor the North Carolina film industry and assist in developing protocol to measure filmmaking activities in North Carolina.

Click here to find out more.

  • N.C. Film Industry Forecast - Two statements from EUE Screen Gems Executive Vice President Bill Vassar earned spontaneous applause during the Cucalorus Film Festival State of the State address last week in Wilmington. The first put into words what most of the 100 or so people there have been hoping for since the 25 percent film incentives bill was passed in the spring by the N.C. General Assembly. “We’re going to have a good year next year,” Vassar said. “We’ve had more inquiries in the last three months than we’ve had in the last five years.” Vassar was one of eight people speaking on the panel and participating in a Q&A after their introductions. The others were N.C. Film Office Director Aaron Syrett, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, N.C. Sen. Julia Boseman (D-New Hanover), “One Tree Hill” co-producer and Southern Gothic Productions co-founder Kelly Tenney, Wilmington Regional Film Commission Director Johnny Griffin, University of North Carolina Wilmington Film Studies Department Chairman Lou Buttino and actor David Andrews. Panelists answered questions that audience members had written before the meeting began. Click here to find out more.

NC Airline and Airport News (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

  • US Airways Resumes Melbourne, Fla.-CLT. Service - US Airways will resume daily nonstop service between Melbourne, Fla., and Charlotte Douglas International Airport, starting Feb. 12. The three daily non-stop flights will be operated by US Airways Express carrier PSA Airlines. Click here to find out more.
  • Midwest Airlines to Resurrect Milwaukee-RDU Service – Midwest Airlines will provide service between Milwaukee and Raleigh-Durham International Airport, starting April 1, with two daily flights. Click here to find out more.
  • Google Launches Free Wi-Fi at CLT & GSO – As a special promotion, Google is now offering free Wi-Fi at 47 airports nationwide, including Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO). The promotional service will run through Jan. 15. Click here to find out more.

Blue Ridge Parkway (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
When it was first built, the National Park Service was not adverse to tourism along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but was intent on preserving the scenic quality of the parkway, which meant no signs or billboards on the route and few turnoffs. The relationship between the parkway and local communities has improved as the park service has embarked on more partnerships, like the one they have with the Blue Ridge Parkway Association, and tourism has grown in the region. For rural towns and communities that lie on or near the parkway, the scenic road has become a major part of their identity and their economy. Click here to find out more.

NC’s Four and Five Star Awards (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
Forbes Travel Guide's 2010 Five and Four Star awards have been announced and several N.C. properties are among the recipients. Formerly the Mobil Travel Guide’s awards, Forbes Travel Guide’s ratings are based on objective evaluations of more than 500 attributes. Before the brand transfer last fall, the awards were given out under the Mobil brand for more than 50 years. Click here to find out more.

North Carolina properties recognized are:

  • Forbes Five-Star Lodging
    • The Fearrington House Country Inn, Pittsboro
    • The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary
  • Forbes Four-Star Lodgings
    • Ballantyne Resort, Charlotte
    • Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville
    • Old Edwards Inn, Highlands
    • Richmond Hill Inn, Asheville
    • The Carolina Hotel, Pinehurst
  • Forbes Four-Star Restaurants
    • Carolina Crossroads, Chapel Hill
    • Herons, Cary
    • The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro
    • Gallery Restaurant, Charlotte
  • Forbes Four-Star Spas
    • Old Edwards Inn Spa, Highlands
    • The Spa at Ballantyne Resort, Charlotte
    • The Umstead Spa, The Umstead Resort and Spa, Cary
    • The Spa at Pinehurst, The Carolina Hotel, Pinehurst
November 2nd:

LEGISLATIVE News

Travel Promotion Act (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
The U.S. Senate is expected to reconsider the Travel Promotion Act (TPA) in the coming weeks because the legislation creates "revenue" for the federal government. The U.S. Constitution requires that revenue bills originate in the House. TPA, which would create a public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier international travel destination and communicate U.S. security and entry policies, was approved in the U.S. House earlier this month by a vote of 358-66, after originally passing the U.S. Senate last month by a vote of 79-19. When the bill was before the Senate then, Sen. Kay Hagan voted for it; Sen. Richard Burr voted against it.

Now, the U.S. Travel Association is asking travel leaders once again to contact their senators to seek their support for the bill. According to U.S. Travel, Senate passage of TPA and its anticipated signing by President Obama cannot come at a better time. Last week the U.S. Department of Commerce released new numbers confirming that international travel to the United States continues to lag significantly: year-to-date visitation through July is down 10 percent from the same time period in 2008. Spending by international visitors is down nearly 17 percent as compared to the first seven months of 2008. Year-to-date Canadian visitation to the U.S. is down 9 percent. Visitation data is publicly released by the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. For more information, click here.

Since TPA is expected to become law, the U.S. Travel Association has appointed a Travel Promotion Act Implementation Task Force. Carolina Beteta (CA), Chris Thompson (FL) and George Zimmermann (MI) represent state tourism offices on the 10-person task force, which also includes representatives from Choice Hotels, Disney, Sabre Holdings, Allied T-Pro, NTA, CityPass and the Las Vegas CVA. The purpose of the task force is to facilitate the implementation process by offering draft guidelines and a timeline for the Corporation for Travel Promotion and identifying specific leadership qualifications for the Corporation's executive. Click here for the latest information on TPA.

Gasoline Prices Soar (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
Gasoline prices have risen 16 cents a gallon in the past month and will go a bit higher before leveling off, oil and gas analysts say. The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.67 Tuesday vs. $2.69 a year ago, auto club AAA says. Expectations of a global economic recovery have helped drive the increase. The weak dollar is another big factor. Click here to find out more.

Facebook Becoming Big Friend Of Small Businesses (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
Firms are building fan bases on Facebook, the social networking Web site, and using it to connect with customers. Charles Nelson, president of Sprinkles Cupcakes, the Beverly Hills baker to the stars, doesn't have a Facebook profile. Nelson, who works seven days a week, has no time for chatting online with Facebook friends. But Nelson is logged on to Facebook all the time. That's because more than 70,000 people have declared themselves fans of Sprinkles’ Facebook page. Each day on the Web site, Sprinkles announces a secret word, such as "ganache" or "bunny," and the first 25 or 50 people to show up at any of its five stores and whisper that word get a free cupcake. Facebook is not just for friends anymore. The free social networking site -- blocked in many workplaces as a potential time-waster -- is increasingly becoming an inexpensive marketing tool for small businesses. Click here to find out more.

North Carolina News

Division Responds to Rock Slide Situation (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
The Division of Tourism continues to work to mitigate the impact of the rock slide that occurred near the Tennessee state line early this week. Efforts continue to work with the media, industry partners and potential visitors to promote the Division’s message that Western North Carolina is open and easily accessible for fall and holiday travel. The Division has implemented several strategies and will have more efforts as the situation unfolds.

IMPLEMENTED STRATEGIES:

VisitNC.com will be continually updated with the latest information on Interstate 40 and North Carolina’s other highways from the N.C. Dept. of Transportation (NCDOT) and from regional partners. The Division maintains a travel advisory on the main page of its Web site to alert travelers about detours.

  • Officials from the Division have worked with other state agencies including the Governor’s office to coordinate economic and marketing recovery assistance to Western North Carolina. Gov. Bev Perdue signed a declaration of a State of Emergency which is the first step in seeking federal funds to help clear debris and repair the road, as it enables the NCDOT to request funding assistance from the Federal Highway Administration. These federal funds will also be used to support the state’s advertising and communications efforts relating to the rock slide.
  • The Division has worked with media ranging from the Weather Channel to local TV stations and newspapers throughout the state to explain the exact nature of the incident, and insist that they report an accurate and balanced account of the situation. The Division used this opportunity as a chance to further promote the fall color season, with fall color information appearing on outlets such at the Weather Channel and WRAL-TV in Raleigh.
  • Welcome Center staff have contacted local destination marketing organizations, offering to replenish supplies of the Official North Carolina Travel Guide and state maps as needed, since normal traffic patterns have obviously shifted. The Division’s I-40 West Welcome Center at mile marker 10 is currently in an area that is not accessible to interstate traffic, so staff from I-40 West will work at the I-26 West Welcome Center in Madison County at peak times during the fall color season.

DEVELOPING STRATEGIES:

  • The Division is working with regional partners to conduct preliminary research to test perceptions about what consumers think about the incident. This research will help guide the Division’s future response.
  • Media relations and public information efforts continue in collaboration with NCDOT and mountain region partners to ensure the traveling public understands Western North Carolina’s appealing destinations and attractions remain accessible as the important holiday season approaches.
  • A multi-media advertising campaign similar to the special advertising done during the 1997 rock slide is planned in key seasonal markets. The Division will leverage federal resources to assist in these efforts.

For more information from NCDOT about the rock slide and detours, click here or follow NCDOT on Twitter.

South Atlantic Alliance (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
Gov. Bev Perdue has signed a pact to protect coastal resources with her counterparts in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The South Atlantic Alliance will help each state react to disasters such as hurricanes. The four states would pool resources to help with economic development, environmental protection and disaster preparedness. To find out more, visit http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/governors_in_league_on_coast and http://www.charlotteobserver.com/233/story/1008699.html.

Readers’ Favorites include NC Sites (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
In its November issue, Condé Nast Traveler announced the results of its 2009 Readers Choice Awards, which included several N.C. sites. The Swag in Waynesville tied for #72 among the Top 100 Properties. Among the Top U.S. Hotels, the Inn on Biltmore in Asheville ranked #11. Among U.S. Small Hotels, The Swag ranked #2, Fearrington House Country Inn in Pittsboro was #9 and Old Edwards Inn & Spa in Highlands ranked #21. Among Mainland U.S. Small Resorts, the Greystone Inn in Lake Toxaway was #16. In addition, the Outer Banks was #10 among the Readers Choice Awards for Top Islands in North America. Click here to find out more.

Airline News (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

  • Southwest to Add Additional RDU Flights – Beginning March 14, Southwest Airlines plans to add one additional flight between Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). This will give the carrier four daily round trips between the locations. Click here to find out more. Southwest Airlines announced last week it plans to start daily nonstop service between Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) and St. Louis in May 2010. The announcement comes a month after American Airlines announced that it would end its flight between RDU and St. Louis by April 2010. http://triangle.bizjournals.com/triangle/stories/2009/10/19/daily43.html?ed=2009-10-21&ana=e_du_pap.
  • United to Start Service from Chicago to Asheville – Starting Dec. 17, United Airlines will offer twice-daily non-stop service from Chicago’s O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Asheville Regional Airport (AVL). Click here to find out more.
  • US Airways Cutting 1,000 Jobs, Reducing Flying -- US Airways said on Wednesday (today) it will cut some 1,000 jobs next year, shift nearly all of its flying to its three hubs, which includes Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, and Washington, D.C., and suspend several international routes. US Airways said the job cuts will happen in the first half 2010 and will include 600 passenger and ramp service workers, 200 pilots and about 150 flight attendants. Click here to find out more.

Lodging Indicator Trend Report (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
Occupancy in North Carolina through September is down 10.6 percent, according to recent lodging data from Smith Travel Research. Nationwide, year-to-date occupancy is down 9.9 percent and in the South Atlantic states, occupancy is down 8.0 percent. Average daily rates (ADR) in North Carolina are down 5.5 percent year-to-date, and revenue per available room (RevPAR) in North Carolina has dropped 15.5 percent from $49.45 to $41.79 year-to-date. Room rates are down 9.1 percent nationally and down 7.3 percent in the South Atlantic states.

Although the data show some improvements in a handful of cities, industry experts say the hotel industry will not begin to rebound until 2011 or 2012. Still, the numbers represent the first sign of improvements in more than a year. The complete North Carolina report is available at www.nccommerce.com/tourism/research. For more information, contact Marlise Taylor at (919) 733-7278 or via mtaylor@nccommerce.com.

September 21ST:

LEGISLATIVE News

Homebuyer Tax Credit
The NC Association of REALTORS® and NAR are pushing hard to assure that the first-time homebuyer tax credit is extended beyond its current December 1 expiration. Under current law, homebuyers will be eligible for the credit only if they are able to complete their purchase (i.e., go to closing) before December 1, 2009. This requirement intensifies pressure on purchasers, Realtors and lenders as that deadline approaches. NAR is deeply concerned that prospective purchasers, even those with binding contracts, could be denied the credit through no fault of their own. Senior members of the tax-writing committees are aware of these concerns and have noted the dangers of delay.

Informal NAR informal surveys suggest that, depending on the market, transactions are taking anywhere from 30 to 100 days to get to closing; short sales take even longer. Accordingly, NAR has begun an intense campaign that will have major grassroots components to secure an extension of the credit as soon as possible to avert a slowdown in the market. More information can be found at the following links: NAR's FHA and the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Flyer and In Depth: 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit.

To participate in the Call for Action, click here.

North Carolina News

NC REALTORS®, Partners Launch Campaign to Fight NC Foreclosure
NC REALTORS®, along with Attorney General Roy Cooper, the NC Commissioner of Banks and other partners, officially launched the Fight NC Foreclosure campaign at a press conference in Raleigh on Tuesday. NC REALTORS® stepped up as the first sponsors for the program and provided $50,000 which was awarded through NAR's Foreclosure Prevention and Response Program.

"North Carolina REALTORS were the first sponsor of the Fight NC Foreclosure campaign and we are proud to be part of this collaboration to address this growing problem in our state," NC REALTORS® 2009 President Sandra L. O'Connor stated at today's press conference. "As REALTORS®, we help people to achieve the American dream of homeownership. We want to make sure they are able to hold onto that dream, even during this economic downturn."

The campaign will publicize a free, reliable counseling service that's available statewide to people in danger of foreclosure. Attorney General Cooper, who also spoke at the press conference, strongly encouraged consumers to rely on this assistance because there are many other "assistance programs" out there who "prey on people's hope."

"Homeownership is what drives economies and strengthens our society," O'Connor said. "Homeownership brings financial benefits, and homeownership improves the quality of life for individuals, families and communities. North Carolina REALTORS® look forward to this partnership making a difference for people in danger of foreclosure."

The campaign highlights a toll-free number, 1-866-234-4857 (8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m., Mon.-Fri.; 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Sat.) for homeowners to get immediate foreclosure assistance at no cost. The campaign also includes a website and television ads that help educate homeowners about foreclosure prevention and inform them about the free resources available. They are also available online along with foreclosure prevention information for consumers at www.fightncforeclosure.org.

Discounts Help Keep Tourist Areas Afloat
North Carolina's beaches and mountain towns bid a bittersweet goodbye this past weekend to the summer tourism season as vacationers sought one last warm-weather getaway before fall.But despite the weekend's gloomy conditions on the coast and on the bankrolls, most destinations expect declines from this summer to be less drastic than in 2008 due to aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at frugal travelers.To find out more, click here.

Tourism Development Assignments Announced
As the result of a legislative mandate to reduce human and financial resources in the Tourism Development Program, the program has been reorganized into three regions. The mission of the program is to support sustainable efforts to protect, preserve and promote the state’s natural, historic and cultural resources. Development Officers serve as liaisons with local communities to develop tourism across the state. Each region is assigned one development officer, all of whom are managed by a director in the Division office. Also as the result of the legislative mandate, one additional officer is assigned to the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th Anniversary commemoration.

Kaye Myers is assigned to the Mountain region, with responsibility for the following counties: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Burke, Buncombe, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin, and Yancey. Kaye can be reached at (828) 687-7234, ext. 114 or via kmyers@nccommerce.com.

Frankie McWhorter is assigned to the Piedmont region, with responsibility for the following counties: Alamance, Anson, Cabarrus, Caswell, Chatham, Cleveland, Cumberland, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Granville, Guilford, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, Orange, Person, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, Robeson, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Sampson, Scotland, Stanly, Stokes, Union, Vance, and Wake. Frankie can be reached at (828) 245-1494 or via fmcwhorter@nccommerce.com.

Julie Thomas is assigned to the Coastal region, with responsibility for the following counties: Bertie, Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pasquotank, Pamlico, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrrell, Warren, Washington, Wayne, and Wilson. Julie can be reached at (252) 794-3140 or via jthomas@nccommerce.com.

Leesa Brandon is assigned to the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th Anniversary commemoration. Leesa can be reached at (828) 271-4779, ext. 224 or via lbrandon@nccommerce.com.

In addition to management and other duties, the Division’s Tourism Development Director, Russ Haddad, will assist the development officers directly with Carteret, Chatham, Dare, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Greene, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Nash, New Hanover, Orange, Rowan, Sampson, Vance, Wake, Wayne and Wilson counties. Russ can be reached at (919) 733-7502 or via rhaddad@nccommerce.com.

Five North Carolina Events Recognized By ABA
Five North Carolina events have been recognized by the American Bus Association (ABA) among its annual “Top 100 Events In North America.” They include the Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games & Gathering of Scottish Clans, July in Linville; the Billy Graham Library’s “Christmas at the Library,” December in Charlotte; the Carolina Renaissance Festival, October-November in Huntersville; the N.C. Azalea Festival, April in Wilmington; and Christmas at Biltmore Estate, November-December in Asheville. Christmas at Biltmore Estate was further recognized as an “Internationally Known Annual Event.”

While the Top 100 Events are not ranked, ABA does highlight both the Top U.S. and Top Canadian Events for each year. Studies from the ABA Foundation indicate a single motorcoach group of 55 travelers spending just one night at a destination can infuse that local economy with up to $11,660 in tourism dollars spent on lodging, meals, admissions, fees, shopping, souvenirs, services & local taxes. And, of course, events drawing large groups can create jobs.

The 28th annual ABA Top 100 Events in North America is a key guide for professional travel planners and the general public. The list highlights the top fairs, festivals, parades, exhibits, theater and shows across North America. The list is chosen from more than 500 events nominated by state and provincial tourism officials, convention and visitors bureaus and destination marketing organizations from across North America. A 17-member selection committee of tour operators bases its selections on the events' broad appeal, their accessibility to large groups arriving by motorcoach and a variety of other criteria. To find out more, click here.

August 24TH:

LEGISLATIVE News

State Budget (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

Gov. Bev Perdue signed into law the 2009-2011 budget last week, which largely spares the Division from deep cuts. The budget does, however, mandate that the Tourism Development Program (Heritage Tourism Program) be reorganized, eliminating eight positions. The program will be organized into three regions, each with one development officer, managed by Russ Haddad in the Division office. One additional officer is assigned to coordinate the Blue Ridge Parkway's 75th Anniversary. Tourism development officers support sustainable efforts to protect, preserve and promote the state's natural, historic and cultural resources and serve as liaisons with local communities to develop tourism across the state. The budget also eliminates positions that were vacant as of October 1, 2008, including one in the Division office and a custodian's position at the I-77 South Welcome Center in Mecklenburg County. For more information about the Tourism Development Program, contact Director of Tourism Development Russ Haddad at (919) 733-7502 or via rhaddad@nccommerce.com.

North Carolina News

Governor Perdue Announces 2008 Visitor Spending Increase (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)
Gov. Bev Perdue announced that 62 of the state's 100 counties saw increases in visitor spending in 2008, including 16 counties that had increases of more than five percent, according to statistics released today. Visitor spending for 2008 increased 2.1 percent across North Carolina's 100 counties.

Domestic visitors to and within North Carolina spent a record $16.9 billion in 2008, an increase of 2.1 percent from 2007. Visitor expenditures directly generated 190,500 jobs and nearly $4.2 billion in payroll income within North Carolina in 2008. Payroll increased 3.9 percent from 2007. Visitor spending in the state also directly generated close to $2.7 billion in tax revenue for federal, state and local governments in 2008, up 3.6 percent from 2007.

"While we recognize that current economic conditions are impacting businesses all across the state -- including those in the tourism industry -- this continued economic growth, and especially growth in tax revenues, is encouraging," Gov. Perdue said.

The visitor spending figures are the results of an annual study commissioned by the Division and conducted by the U.S. Travel Association. The study uses sales and tax revenue data plus employment figures to determine the overall impact of visitor spending in North Carolina. Highlights include:

  • Mecklenburg County received more than $3.6 billion in domestic travelers' expenditures to lead all of North Carolina's 100 counties. Wake County ranked second with over $1.5 billion, followed by Guilford County with close to $1.1 billion.
  • Thirty-five of North Carolina's 100 counties each received more than $100 million in domestic travelers' expenditures in 2008.
  • Thirty-three counties in North Carolina had 1,000 or more jobs directly supported by domestic travelers during 2008.
  • Onslow County showed the largest percentage increase in visitor spending with an 8.3 percent increase. Of the state's large tourism destinations, Forsyth County showed the greatest increase, gaining 5.9 percent.

Click here to view the 2008 county-by-county numbers and then click on one of the four pdf files.

This research was gathered using the Travel Economic Impact Model (TEIM). Click here to view the research.

N.C. Wine Industry Thrives (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

Like a fine chardonnay or merlot, experts predict that North Carolina's wine industry, particularly in the western part of the state, is only going to get better with age. North Carolina is home to more than 80 wineries, which has tripled since 2001. The state ranks 10th for grape and wine production in the United States. Western N.C. is home to about 10 wineries. Among the biggest challenges mountain grape growers face include cold weather, high humidity and plant disease. Finding a grape that's also resistant to disease is a challenge, too, and the traditional vinifera-style grapes don't grow well in North America naturally. To find out more, click here.

Media Stories (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

Since the release by the Division of the "2008 Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties," several news outlets have spotlighted their local areas. Some of the counties who received media attention were:

Cabarrus: http://www2.independenttribune.com/content/2009/aug/13/visitor-spending-rises-majority-nc-counties/
Dare County: http://www.ncnn.com/content/view/4792/123/
Davidson: http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/20090812/ARTICLES/908129982
Mecklenburg: http://charlotte.bizjournals.com/charlotte/stories/2009/08/10/daily31.html?ed=2009-08-13&ana=e_du_pub
Onslow: http://www.jdnews.com/news/onslow-66572-county-increased.html
Randolph: http://www.courier-tribune.com/articles/2009/08/12/news/cn1.txt
Surry County: http://mtairynews.com/bookmark/3181651
Triad region: http://triad.bizjournals.com/triad/stories/2009/08/10/daily40.html?ed=2009-08-12&ana=e_du_pub

July 15TH:

LEGISLATIVE News

Beach Plan (Source: NCAR Weekly Government Affairs Update)
The House Finance Committee met three times last Thursday to debate and vote on the proposed changes to the Beach Plan in HB 1305 (Beach Plan Changes), introduced by Rep. Hugh Holliman (D-Davidson). These changes that are aimed at helping the plan survive a catastrophic storm.

N.C. Association of REALTORS® staff were successful in having two amendments adopted. The first, introduced by Rep. Bill Owens (D-Pasquotank), provides that the 1% deductible for Beach Plan policies will only be charged after a named storm event. The second, introduced by Rep. Danny McComas (R-New Hanover), removed the requirement that all properties in the Beach Plan carry flood insurance irrespective of whether the property is located in a flood hazard area. An amendment to keep the per property exposure cap at $1.5 million for residential policies introduced by Rep. Dewey Hill (D-Brunswick) failed, as did an amendment offered by Rep. Owens to reduce the surcharges on wind only and full homeowners policies from 10 to 5 percent and from 20 to 15 percent respectively.

Additionally, Rep. Van Braxton (D-Lenior) introduced a successful amendment to require an annual audit of the Beach Plan. An amendment to move the cap amount on the recoupable assessment in the event of a catastrophic storm event from 10 percent to 5 percent was introduced by Rep. Jennifer Weiss (D-Wake) but failed.

N.C. Association of REALTORS® staff will continue to work to address our members’ concerns as the bill moves through the House and to the Senate.

North Carolina News

Tourists Pay Price as States Jack Up Taxes to Balance Budgets (Source: Smith Anderson Government Affairs Weekly Report)
Auction Supports Affordable Housing Grants Help others and help your business by donating an item to Homes4NC’s American Dream Auction. Proceeds will be used to help hardworking families across the state find quality, affordable housing close to where they work. Planned for Sept. 28 during the NC REALTORS Convention, item donors can expect to receive extensive recognition at the event and on our special Auction Web site, which opens for bidding on Aug. 3, 2009. http://www.homes4nc.org/09auctioninfo.doc

Taxes on travel are soaring as states and cities target the wallets of tourists and business travelers for new revenue. Hotel taxes, car rental fees and other charges were jacked up in many states in an effort to balance budgets by last week, when the fiscal year started in 46 states. Popular tourist destinations were hit especially hard at areas including Hawaii, New York City, Nevada and Massachusetts. To find out more, visit http://www.usatoday.com/travel/2009-07-05-traveltax_N.htm.

Appointments (Source: NCAR Weekly Government Affairs Update)
In recent weeks, the following appointments have been made to various State Boards and Commissions:

  1. Wanda Proffitt has been appointed to the North Carolina Transportation Board. Unfortunately, this means Mrs. Proffitt has had to resign from the North Carolina Real Estate Commission. However, we thank her for her 15 years of service on the Commission and wish her well in her new appointment.
  2. John Hamrick has resigned from the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board after 14 years of service. Mr. Hamrick was one of the initial Board members and his knowledge and expertise will be missed.
  3. Tony Jarrett was appointed to replace Mr. Hamrick on the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board and attended his first meeting July 10, 2009. We are excited to have Mr. Jarrett representing our interests and look forward to working with him on this Board.
  4. Tom Barton has been appointed to the North Carolina Appraisal Board by Governor Perdue. His first meeting will be August 11, 2009. We are thrilled to have Mr. Barton serving on this Board.

May 29TH:

LEGISLATIVE News

House Budget Update (Source: NCAR Weekly Government Affairs Update)

The NC House is still in the process of developing its budget.

The Senate has already passed its version of the budget and its Finance Committee is evaluating a finance package which includes some significant changes to our state tax structure and would raise over $1.2 billion over the next two fiscal years.

House Democrats appear to have a different idea - spending cuts rather than tax increases. House leaders are working on a budget that would spend less money than the Senate's plan or the Governor's proposed budget. Draft proposals by the House are reducing state agency and department budgets by 10-20 percent annually for each of the next two years. Additionally, they are considering proposals to reduce education costs, including cutting the number of school days and increasing classroom size.

Some skeptical analysts are opining that the House's strategy may be to adopt significant cuts in government services and then determine whether the groundswell of opposition to the cuts is enough to bolster support for tax increases.

North Carolina News

North Carolina #17 In Overseas Visitors In 2008 (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

North Carolina ranks 17th in overseas visitors to the United States, drawing 355,000 overseas visitors in 2008, according to a recent report from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. This represents a market share of 1.4 percent of overseas visitors. The ranking is down 1 percent from last year when North Carolina ranked 15th, with a market share of 1.5 percent of overseas visitors to the U.S. The study shows that North Carolina was the third most visited southeastern state in the analysis (behind Florida and Georgia).

In 2008, overseas arrivals to the United States as a whole posted a 6 percent growth rate. This research data from the U.S.

Dept. of Commerce is obtained through in-flight surveys given to overseas passengers flying into the United States, as well as US passengers flying out of the country. For the sixth straight year, New York was the top state destination visited by overseas travelers and California held the second position. Florida remained in the third position while Nevada, Hawaii, Illinois, and Massachusetts followed the top three states visited.

The Division actively markets North Carolina in the United Kingdom and German-speaking Europe. There are five international flight arrivals in North Carolina daily, two from London and one from Frankfurt, Munich and Paris.

To view the top states and cities visited by overseas travelers, visit: http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/outreachpages/download_data_table/2008_States_and_Cities.pdf .

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May 22nd:

LEGISLATIVE News

Texting and Driving (Source: NCAR Weekly Government Affairs Update)

A bill that will ban motorists from driving and texting was approved by the Senate Judiciary II Committee this week. HB 9 (No Texting While Driving), http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H9v3.pdf , introduced by Reps. Garland Pierce (D-Scotland), Pricey Harrison(D-Guilford) and Larry Hall (D-Durham), would fine motorists who are caught sending a text message on their cell phone while driving $100 plus court costs. A school bus driver could face a misdemeanor punishable by at least a $100 fine. Ten states and the District of Columbia currently have a text messaging ban for all drivers, according to the national Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety agencies. The bill would make exceptions for emergency responders, as well as people who use voice-activated technology or access global navigation systems.

North Carolina News

New Format for N.C. Travel Tracker (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

The Division has debuted a new, improved North Carolina Travel Tracker on NCCommerce.com. The new Travel Tracker provides many charts, graphs and new variables to help industry partners track the most important tourism indicators on a monthly basis. Some of the new items offered are a four-year trend analysis for statewide lodging indicators, park visitation and attraction attendance; statewide gasoline price index, statewide average temperature and precipitation data; and a national travel price index (TPI).

Since 2001, the Division has worked with North Carolina State University to produce the N.C. Travel Tracker. Its purpose is to provide up-to-date and relevant tourism indicators for state and its three geographical regions. With data from the Travel Tracker, industry partners can strategically plan, implement and evaluate processes and programs.

The January 2009 and February 2009 N.C. Travel Trackers are now online at www.nccommerce.com/tourism/research/traveltracker; the March N.C. Travel Tracker will be online soon. For more information, contact Marlise Taylor at (919) 733-7278 or via mtaylor@nccommerce.com.

Travel Promotion Act of 2009 Introduced in Congress (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

The United States needs to wage a charm offensive to woo overseas tourists seduced by rivals like France and Italy, U.S. senators and industry experts said last week as the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 was introduced in the U.S. Senate. The bill is considered landmark legislation to stimulate U.S. economic growth, create thousands of new American jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue for communities across the country. The U.S. Travel Association says the law is especially necessary given that the U.S. dollar is strengthening, the global economy is slowing and America continues to welcome fewer overseas visitors than prior to September 11, 2001.

The Travel Promotion Act would establish a public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier international travel destination and communicate U.S. security and entry policies. The legislation specifies that travel promotion would be paid for by private sector contributions and a $10 fee on foreign travelers from countries that do not pay $131 for a visa to enter the United States. Similar legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008, but did not receive a vote before the Senate adjourned. For more information on the introduction of the bill, visit

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.1eb625e36e305c62ccc14e75288e023d.9c1&show_article=1 or http://www.ustravel.org/pressmedia/pressrec.asp?Item=966 .

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May 8TH:

NCVRMA News

May 12th is NC Travel and Tourism Day (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

Next week brings North Carolina's celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week with events scheduled in Raleigh on Tuesday, May 12, and throughout the week with celebrations at the Division's nine Welcome Centers across the state.

National Travel and Tourism Week, May 9-17, is a collective effort to promote the power of travel through customized events in communities nationwide. In 2009, the first-ever U.S. Travel Rally Day will be in cities and towns across America on May 12, with convention and visitors bureau leaders uniting with state and local government and business leaders to promote the message that "Travel Matters." The goal is to create better awareness of the industry's contribution to the state's economy and to recognize the cultural and social benefits created by travel and tourism.

The N.C. Travel Industry Association (NC TIA) has scheduled a "Tourism Day Extravaganza" at the Legislative Building in Raleigh to emphasize to lawmakers the importance of the tourism industry to the state, its tax base and its economy. If your organization is interested in exhibiting at the Legislative Building, space is still available. In addition, volunteers are being needed to work 8:30-10 a.m. to assist with directing exhibitors to their assigned locations, parking, and general troubleshooting (local knowledge is helpful but not required).

The evening reception has 32 organizations scheduled to exhibit but space is still available. To volunteer or if your state agency would like to exhibit in the Legislative Building or at the evening reception, contact Lynn Lewis at (252) 944-1158 or via lynn@originalwashington.com. Non-state agencies interested in exhibiting may contact Vince Chelena at (704) 333-3234 or via vince@themanagementoffice.com.

On May 12th in Raleigh, plan to:
-Interact with lawmakers through tourism booths/displays at the Legislative Building from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
-Watch the NASCAR House vs. Senate Pit Crew Challenge at noon at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, at noon coordinated by Visit Charlotte.
-See the N.C. Travel & Tourism Board Meeting, Education Building, 4th Floor Boardroom from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
-Attend the VIP Reception (ticketed event) at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

To view scheduled Travel and Tourism Day activities for the Welcome Centers, visit http://www.nccommerce.com/NR/rdonlyres/8E5C1B4F-CDD9-4AD2-B9AD-EFD3F8245A81/0/WelcomeCentersTourismDay09.pdf .

North Carolina News

School Calendar Bills Defeated! (Source: NCAR Weekly Government Affairs Update)

The NC Assoc. of REALTORS, the Vacation Rental Managers Association and our other allies scored two important victories on the school calendar issue this week. HB 593 (Change School Start Date), http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H593v1.pdf , which would permit school districts to start classes as early as the second Monday in August, failed in the House Commerce Committee this week by a 13-to-14 vote. While this was a great victory, the sponsors of the bill have already asked that it be re-calendared for Tuesday, May 12th in the same committee and are attempting to have committee members switch their vote.

HB 1001 (Modify School Calendar Law/3 County LEAs) was also defeated this week in the House Committee on Local Government II. It is very unlikely that this bill, which applies to Stanly, Union and Montgomery Counties, will be reconsidered.

A similar bill, HB 1306 (Restore Flexibility to School Calendar), introduced by Reps. Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg), Douglas Younge (D-Hoke), Will Neumann (R-Gaston) and Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland), http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H1306v1.pdf , will be heard in the House Education Committee on Tuesday, May 12th. It is our understanding that this bill will be converted into a study bill. The NC Association of REALTORS and other interested parties will continue to voice our opposition and push for defeat of all bills aimed at changing the school calendar law.

Homeowner's Insurance (Source: NCAR Weekly Government Affairs Update)

State legislators from coastal counties met this week to discuss HB 426 (Stay on Homeowners Insurance Actions), http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H426v1.pdf , introduced by Reps. Tim Spear (D-Washington), Bill Owens (D-Pasquotank), William Wainwright (D-Craven) and Pat McElraft (R-Carteret), that would put a year-long stay on changes to homeowners insurance that raised rates along the coast and lowered them for some western counties. The new insurance rates were effective May 1st across the state and a court case brought by several coastal counties and other parties which tried to stop the new insurance rates from going into effect was dismissed last week.

Also, there is legislation that will completely overhaul the insurance plan known as the Beach Plan. HB 1305 (Beach Plan Changes), http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H1305v0.pdf , introduced by Rep. Hugh Holliman (D-Davidson) is currently being revised. The N.C. Association of REALTORS is working with various stakeholders and legislative leadership to improve the insurance market and provide relief for coastal property owners.

Smoking Ban (Source: Smith Anderson Government Affairs Weekly Report)

The North Carolina Senate voted 26-18 Thursday to ban smoking in bars and restaurants. The latest version of HB 2 (Prohibit Smoking in Certain Public Places), http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H2v7.pdf , to ban smoking would only apply to restaurants and bars. Other workplaces would not be covered by the ban.

The revised version is the latest of a series of iterations of the smoking bill sponsored by Rep. Hugh Holliman. Last month, the House passed a version of the bill that would ban smoking in restaurants and most indoor workplaces, but not in adult-only businesses such as bars. When Senate leaders determined they did not have the votes to pass the broader measure approved by the House, they reworked the bill into the narrowed form.

Rep. Holliman said it was unlikely the House would accept the Senate version of the bill. Holliman indicated that the bill would likely go to a conference committee. Such committees rework legislation into a single version that is then sent to both chambers for a final vote.

APRIL 17TH:

NCVRMA News

Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals VRHP will host their next seminar on APRIL 22, 2009 at The Breakers Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC. If you wish to book rooms for this seminar, call 888-501-8227.

The cost of the event is $60 per person if you are a VRHP member and $100 per person for non-members. For each four persons you register, you can bring a fifth free!!! The cost includes morning coffee and a group buffet luncheon.

http://www.ncvrma.com/VRHP.htm

Webinar

On Monday, April 13th the NC Association of REALTORS held a webinar on homeowners insurance issues. The panelists included Willo Kelly, Outer Banks Association of REALTORS, Stuart Powell, Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina and Sheila Pierce, 2009 NC Assoc. of REALTORS Legislative Committee Chair.

Rick Zechini, Director of Government Affairs with the NC Assoc. of REALTORS, served as moderator. The panelists discussed the Beach Plan and the insurance market throughout the state, and what impact the recent events will have. They also provided some prospective on where we go from here as a state in terms of regulating homeowners insurance. The Webinar is archived and can be found at the following link:

http://www.visualwebcaster.com/Event.asp?regd=y&id=57597&u=2953944 .

North Carolina News

School Calendar (Source: NCAR Weekly Government Affairs Update) Another bill aimed at allowing Orange County to begin classes earlier than the state mandated August 25th of each year was defeated by a 9-6 margin this week in the House Committee on Local Government II. HB 850 (Local Control of School Calendar/2 Counties), http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H850v1.pdf , introduced by Reps. Bill Faison (D-Orange) and Verla Insko (D-Orange), would have allowed Orange and Caswell counties to begin classes as early as the school boards chose each year.

Next Tuesday, HB 593 (Change School Start Date), introduced by Reps. Paul Luebke (D-Durham), Martha Alexander (D-Mecklenburg), Bob England (D-Cleveland) and Ray Rapp (D-Madison), http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H593v1.pdf , will be heard in the House Committee on Education. The NC Association of REALTORS and other interested parties will continue to voice our opposition and push for defeat of this bill.

Beach Plan (Source: NCAR Weekly Government Affairs Update) On March 20th, a Wake County Superior Court Judge issued an order halting the Beach Plan surcharge increases and deductible increases that were approved on November 21, 2008. This order does not address rate changes that become effective May 1st of this year. This week the Department of Insurance filed an appeal to only one provision of the order. The Department is appealing the court's decision which took away its authority to approve higher insurance rates for certain homeowners without a public hearing but is not seeking to overturn the portion of the order that stayed surcharge and deductible increases approved by former Insurance Commissioner Jim Long from going into effect.

Texting and Driving (Source: NCAR Weekly Government Affairs Update)

A bill that will ban motorists from driving and texting was approved by the House this week. HB 9 (No Texting While Driving), http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H9v3.pdf , introduced by Reps. Garland Pierce (D-Scotland), Pricey Harrison

(D-Guilford) and Larry Hall (D-Durham), would fine motorists who are caught sending a text message on their cell phone while driving $100 plus court costs. A school bus driver could face a misdemeanor punishable by at least a $100 fine. Ten states and the District of Columbia currently have a text messaging ban for all drivers, according to the national Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety agencies. The bill would make exceptions for emergency responders, as well as people who use voice-activated technology or access global navigation systems.

Government Expects Gasoline Prices To Remain Low Over Summer (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

Motorists may want to take to the road this summer as the federal government says gasoline prices are expected to stay relatively low. The Energy Information Administration on Tuesday

(yesterday) projected regular-grade gasoline to average $2.23 a gallon in the April-through-September driving season, with a likely peak of $2.30 a gallon. That's still a bargain compared with last summer, when gasoline averaged $3.81 a gallon and topped $4. To find out more, visit http://www.boston.com/travel/articles/2009/04/15/us_sees_modest_summer_gas_prices/ .

Bloggers are Changing the Travel Industry (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter) A recent CNN article stated that bloggers are changing the travel industry. And the travel industry isn't just hip to blogging. In many cases, it takes blogs more seriously than the mainstream media. Other travelers, particularly those booking their hotels online, feel that blogs are more believable than what they read in a newspaper or watch on TV. The article included examples of how a traveler's blog has changed their traveling experience but, in several cases, changed company policy. To find out more, visit http://www.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/traveltips/03/23/blogging.travel.complaints/index.html .

APRIL 10TH:

NORTH CAROLINA NEWS

Senate Passes Budget Proposal; Finance Package Will Come Later (Source: NCAR Government Affairs Update)

In a 32-16 vote, Senate lawmakers gave final approval to their two-year $20 billion spending plan. Through a combination of federal stimulus money, spending reductions and $500 million in tax increases, the plan attempts to diminish the $3.4 billion budget gap for next year. The tax increases will be unspecified until the finance package is released. However, they are expected to include higher alcohol and cigarette taxes and taxes on some professional services. It is unlikely that the increase in the professional license tax included in Governor Perdue’s budget will be included in the final Senate budget.

Marketing Funds Included in Senate Budget (Source: Smith Anderson Government Affairs Weekly Report)

The following items are included in the Senate budget proposal:

  • Marketing Funds:$1,500,000 NR, FY 09-10($1,000,000 from the One NC Fund cash balance,$500,000 from the General Fund)
  • Tourist Destination Marketing: $259,165 NR, FY 09-10

On-Demand Flight Service Available Across N.C. (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

Airport managers and community leaders of 11 small communities in North Carolina are working closely with the N.C. Dept. of Transportation (NCDOT) Division of Aviation to promote the availability of on-demand air service at their local airports. Bypromoting the utility of the air service and the local airports, the efficiency, availability and economic development leverage of air service could benefit North Carolina communities at all of the 70+ public-use airports across the state, not only the nine airports serviced by scheduled commercial service.

The program, designated "NCFlyPorts,” will work closely with local airports and communities to inform and educate potential users that air service direct to their local airport is available. The communities themselves will benefit from the increased use of the airports as transportation portals and the economic development that air service brings. To find out more, visit http://ncflyports.com/MainSite/default.aspx. The communities participating in the initial program are: Andrews/Murphy Airport, Brunswick County Airport, Currituck County Airport, Dare County Airport, Duplin County Airport, Elizabeth City Regional Airport, Northeastern Regional Airport in Edenton, Rocky Mount – Wilson Regional Airport, Rutherford County – Marchman Field, Clinton-Sampson County Airport and Stanly County Airport

Travel Industry Woos Those with Plenty of Leisure Time: Furloughed and Laid-Off Workers (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

Victims of the economy are being offered discounts on airfare, lodging, cruises and ski-lift tickets. Tourism merchants say the bargains won't end their industry's skid, “but it's a very nice step.” Pink slip travelers, furlough tourists, or jobless vacationers? Call them what you may, they are a surprising new target for travel bargains aimed at the unemployed, the furloughed and jittery workers fearful of being laid off. Discounts are nothing new during tough economic times, but airlines, hotels, resorts and other tourism merchants are going a step further, exploring a market long considered a tough one to crack. Several businesses are reporting a positive response to the travel deals. To find out more, visit http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tourism3-2009apr03,0,6308665.story.

APRIL 3RD:

NORTH CAROLINA NEWS

School Calendar

It is no joke – on Wednesday, April 1st two bills aimed at allowing various counties to begin classes earlier than the state mandated August 25th of each year were defeated by 8-5 margins. Rep. Haire’s (D-Haywood) bill, HB 483 (School Calendar Flexibility/Some LEAs), http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H483v1.pdf , would have allowed six mountain counties to begin classes as early as August 11th each year. HB 499 (School Calendar Flexibility/2 LEAs), http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H499v1.pdf, introduced by various members from the Buncombe County and Asheville area was also defeated by the same margin.

Additional bills were filed this week to allow other local school boards to change the school calendars in their areas. The NC Association of REALTORS® and our vacation rental managers are working with a coalition of other groups to defeat these measures as well. (Source: NCAR Weekly Government Affairs Update)

Grandfather Mountain Becomes State's Newest Park

Gov. Beverly Perdue has signed legislation that allows Grandfather Mountain to become North Carolina's newest state park. Perdue's signature on Tuesday finalized an agreement to create Grandfather Mountain State Park and protect its nearly 2,500 undeveloped acres. The heirs of company founder Hugh Morton will continue operating the Grandfather Mountain tourist attraction, including its nature center and "mile-high" swinging bridge. The state also will gain a conservation easement on 749 acres of the property. The state parks system is coordinating an interim management plan with the Morton family for the backcountry property and its 12 miles of trails. The property lies in Watauga, Avery and Caldwell counties, and contains the headwaters of both the Watauga and Linville rivers. To find out more, visit http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1465925.html and http://www.governor.state.nc.us/NewsItems/PressReleaseDetail.aspx?newsItemID=250. (Source: VISITNC Weekly Newsletter)

NCVRMA NEWS

NCAR Legislative Days

Please make plans to attend this year’s Legislative Meetings, April 20-22, 2009 in Raleigh, NC. The Annual Legislative Reception will take place on Tuesday, April 21st and provides a valuable opportunity for interaction with your elected officials. A full schedule of events can be found here: 2009 Legislative Meetings or http://www.ncrealtors.org/uploads/midyearschedule2.pdf. All meetings are being held at the Sheraton in Downtown Raleigh. To reserve your room today, please contact the Sheraton-Raleigh at 800-325-3535 or 919-834-9900.

New Board Members

Congratulations to the following new board members who were elected at this week’s convention:

  • Gordon Jones, President
  • Toni Henry, Vice President
  • Janice Farr
  • Paige Brown
  • Shari Goldstein
  • Casey Holcombe
  • Mary Korotva

We thank each board member for their leadership and service to NCVRMA.

 

VRMA

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