Weekend tourists are turning into lifetime residents, bringing $30 billion annually to the economy in the Carolinas. The University of North Carolina Wilmington and Coastal Carolina University are teaming up to co-host a Joint Economic Growth Summit to explore the lasting benefits of tourism and the phenomena of the "Turbo-Tourist."
The summit will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday, March 9 in the Burney Center on the UNCW campus. Participants will hear updates on national, state and local economic activity from university faculty members Woody Hall (UNCW) and Don Schunk CCU). They will also hear from keynote speaker Patrick Mason, co-founder of the Center for Carolina Living, about how the tourism and in-migration industries are economically linked and about the economic impact of those industries. A panel of local tourism experts will examine the current state of and the outlook for tourism in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina.
Hall, professor of economics and senior economist with UNCW's Swain Center for Business and Economic Services, and Schunk, research economist with the BB&T Center for Economic and Community Development at Coastal Carolina University, are frequently called upon for comment and analysis on economic conditions. The March summit will mark the third time they have joined forces to present their perspectives.
Mason will examine in-migration, which he finds is still an incubating industry that permeates every facet of Carolina business and culture. The estimated annual impact of Carolina newcomers approaches $30 billion, creating 39,000 housing transactions and producing at least 33,000 new jobs across the Carolinas each year, making it a leading edge economic sector, Mason said.
"Tourism is the birth-mother of another huge Carolina economic engine called the in-migration industry," said Mason. "We've branded the travel segment, estimated to be six million visitors exploring the Carolinas with investment and relocation motivations, 'Turbo-Tourists.'"
Some characteristics related to Turbo-Tourism, which Mason will explore in his talk, include:
- Affluent, highly educated families who visit numerous destinations as part of their exploration mission
- Reserve far in advance, spend more, stay longer and return more frequently than average tourists
- Create a "turbo-effect" beyond their $2,000 or $10,000 vacation when they relocate or acquire a second home, investing $250,000 to more than $1 million the first year
- 14 percent of Turbo-Tourists indicate that they intend to move or launch a business, bringing intellectual capital, investing millions and creating new jobs across the Carolinas
The cost of the conference is $35 for an individual registration or $240 for a table of eight. Breakfast is included in the registration fee. For more information or to register online, visit the Web site for the Swain Center for Business and Economic services at www.csb.uncw.edu/cbes. Preregistration deadline is March 5; onsite registration will be available day of the event.