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Wilson’s tourism leaders on Tuesday jumped at the opportunity to promote the county’s agricultural assets as part of a statewide app.
“This is a really good thing,” said Rob Boyette, Wilson tourism board member and Wilson County Commissioners chairman. “Norman (Harrell) and I were at an ag breakfast in Raleigh and we looked at the current site, but when you get to Wilson County, it is blank because we’re not investing in it. It’ll give us an opportunity to promote farming and agribusiness to people who are interested in going to these places.”
Sandra Homes, executive director of the Wilson Visitors Center, said she and Harrell, director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension office in Wilson County, recently heard about the app and were eager to get involved. The buy-in for the county to participate in the Visit NC Farms app has been pledged by Wilson Economic Development and the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, but a $300 monthly fee still needed to be covered.
“Something similar happened in the late 1980s, and I was involved to some degree in Raleigh,” Boyette said. “The idea of wanting to visit a farm is something farmers didn’t understand, but today, they understand how important tourism is.”
Homes and Harrell will develop a list of 50 local spots to include in the app.
“We could have everything from sweet potato farms to Artisan Leaf and the gardens,” Homes said.
Other items discussed at the Tuesday meeting included a decline in advertising and an 8% dip in occupancy at area hotels in January 2020 compared to the same month in 2019.
“Last year we had some big soccer groups in January that didn’t come back because they bounce around with facilities,” said Dennis Johnson, chairman of the Wilson tourism board. “I’ve also noticed with the weather being a little warmer that a lot of the snowbirds haven’t traveled as much.”
Homes also said the plan to install more than 30 new wayfinding signs around Wilson has been pushed back to June.