Outer Banks Market: Continually Strong Over Others

There’s no such thing as a sure thing, but about as close to that as you can get is the tourist industry on the Outer Banks. Of course, that’s easy to say (or write), but investors looking to purchase homes for the rental market need more than words.

The fact is, though, that Outer Banks tourism revenue has grown every year since the early 1990s with the exception of 2008 to 2009. Using Dare County gross occupancy as a bench mark, the loss in revenue was 1.78% during that period, but in the two years since, revenues have increased more than 7%–and that includes last year when Hurricane Irene struck during the last week in August.

The almost 3.8% increase in occupancy revenues 2011 vs 2010 is truly remarkable. Because of Irene, there was no visitation to Hatteras Island for eight weeks after the storm and the northern Outer Banks lost almost two weeks of visitation at the end of the peak season.

Hatteras Island seems to be coming back very strong, and indications from property managers on the norther Outer Banks indicate another very strong season is developing.

There are a number of factors that have contributed to the consistent and continuing strength of the Outer Banks market. Certainly the physical setting has a lot to do with it. This is a beautiful place to visit and there is a lot to do. The beauty of the area alone, however, does not explain its growth–there are, after all, a number of places that compare very well with the Outer Banks for beauty and amenities that have struggled over the past few years. Coastal South Carolina, as an example did not recover to pre-recession figures until 2010 and 2011. The same seems to be true for much of coastal New Jersey.

What the Outer Banks has done as well as any other regional market is create a cohesive marketing plan. Some of that is the direct result of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau that is specifically tasked with that in mind. Additionally, property management companies on the Outer Banks have remarkably high professional standards–both in marketing and product development.

There is also a geographic advantage. Of all the major tourist destinations on the eastern seaboard, the Outer Banks is the most centrally located allowing it to draw from a day long drive time radius that includes New York City, Philadelphia, most of Ohio and Atlanta.

There are, and will continue to be uncertainties in the marketplace–and many of those uncertainties are beyond the control of any one person or regional market. However, those elements of marketing, presentation and product development that can be controlled are being handled professionally on the Outer Banks, and the results speak for themselves.