Comprehensive plan aims to grow tourism industry to 21.7 million visitors annually by 2028.

Destination 2028

Raleigh, N.C. (Aug. 16, 2018) – Today, the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh) along with hospitality-industry consultant Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) unveiled the Destination 2028 Plan to grow tourism in Wake County to more than 21 million visitors annually by 2028.

The plan is the culmination of a 12-month research and planning process led by JLL. More than 1,800 individuals were engaged in the planning process including:

  • Leaders from Wake County, City of Raleigh and 11 other municipalities within the county
  • 17-member steering committee
  • 1,044 resident survey responses
  • 380 stakeholder survey responses
  • 36 focus groups held

The process used to build the Destination 2028 Plan was grounded in three, complementary principles:

  1. Stakeholder consensus
  2. Tourism infrastructure and destination development
  3. Increase all visitor flows across conventions and meetings, sports and leisure tourism

“The 12-month planning process has led us to some fantastic conclusions and concrete ideas for moving Wake County forward as a premier tourism destination,” said Dan Fenton, Executive Vice President with JLL’s Hotels and Hospitality Group who oversaw the planning process. “We’re most proud of the inclusive nature of the process, having engaged with more than 1,800 individuals from both the public and private sectors, we can truly say this is a comprehensive plan to serve all areas of Wake County.”

A steering committee made up of members of both the public and private sectors within Wake County was formed to oversee the planning process. Members included:

  • John Q. Adams—Red Hat
  • Dan Ault—Town of Cary
  • Jenn Bosser—City of Raleigh Economic Development
  • Jason Cannon—Town of Wake Forest
  • Angela Caraway, MMP—TCMG, Inc.
  • Deanna Crossman—The Mayton Inn
  • Robert Doreauk—AT&T
  • Katharine Eberhardt—North Carolina Football Club Youth
  • Sherry Fadool—Triangle Volleyball Club
  • Jim Greene—City of Raleigh
  • Scott Manning—North Carolina State University
  • Jennifer Martin—Greater Raleigh Merchants Association
  • Eleanor Oakley—United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County
  • Christine Quante—Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce
  • Ian Sauer—Summit Hospitality Group
  • Lesley Stracks-Mullem—Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours
  • Jason Widen—HQ Raleigh

The result is a robust plan with both procedural and infrastructure related recommendations centered around eight priorities of focus in order for tourism to grow in Wake County:

  • Meetings & Conventions
  • Sports
  • Events
  • Individual Leisure
  • Key Attractors
  • Destination Development
  • Regional Demand Drivers
  • Quality of Place

Although there are many, 10 of the key recommendations within the Destination 2028 Plan include:

  1. A two-phased renovation and expansion of the Raleigh Convention Center (RCC) to include more space and, at a minimum, a 400+ room headquarters hotel (adjacent or connected to the RCC).
  2. A 100-150k-square-foot, multi-use, indoor sports complex (including 12-16 courts and the ability to seat 4,000-5,000 spectators arena style) to host youth and amateur events and tournaments and add to the year-round inventory of fields and courts used for basketball, volleyball, wrestling etc.
  3. A multi-use MLS stadium (regardless of location) that can host 75+ events annually including other sporting events, entertainment, small conferences/meetings and consumer or public shows.
  4. The development of the Blue Ridge Corridor into a sports, entertainment, arts, scientific, medical and agricultural campus, including renovations and upgrades to PNC Arena to enhance the visitor experience and allow the arena to book more events, concerts, meetings and conventions year-round. (NOTE: Only if a lease extension with the Hurricanes is agreed upon)
  5. Strategies to identify and increase signature events and festivals in the area as well as blockbuster traveling or permanent exhibits at area arts and cultural institutions.
  6. Adding iconic design elements/features and unique visitor experiences to planned future development projects within Wake County such as Dorothea Dix Park to draw visitors, not just provide quality of life/place benefits to residents.
  7. Strategies to grow the area’s reputation around esports including hosting major gaming events, developing production and high-performance training facilities and even a possible interactive attraction to draw visitors–playing off the area’s rich culture within the gaming industry.
  8. Strategies to grow unique and authentic visitor experiences such as People-First Tourism.
  9. Recommendations to increase international visitation from Canada, Europe and emerging markets such as China and India through working with the area’s corporate sector, academic institutions and other destination partners regionally.
  10. Consistent guidelines, standards and direct measurement principles for future projects funded through the Wake County and City of Raleigh Interlocal Fund.

“Tourism is at an all-time high here in Wake County. However, if we want to remain competitive and continue the current rate of growth, it’s essential that we leverage the county’s full potential as a tourism destination,” said Dennis Edwards, President and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh). “We feel the recommendations made by JLL – with great input from a broad base of stakeholders – in the Destination 2028 Plan will help us achieve our goal of increasing visitation from 16.4 million to 21.7 million visitors annually over the next ten years.”

Now that the plan is complete, the Steering Committee which oversaw the planning process will now be replaced with a Blue Ribbon Task Force which will be taking on the strategic advocacy for the implementation of plan.

Members include:

  • Harvey Schmitt—President Emeritus, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce (Chair)
  • Shelia Ahler—Retired; Cherry Bekaert
  • Kacie Fore—Duke Energy Corporation
  • Jim Hansen—PNC
  • Thomas “Skip” Hill III—Highwoods Properties
  • Kevin Howell—North Carolina State University
  • Aly Khalifa—Designbox
  • Geoff Lang—MetLife
  • Doyle Parrish—Summit Hospitality Group
  • Orage Quarles III—Retired; The News & Observer
  • Sepi Saidi—SEPI Engineering & Construction
  • Nate Spilker—Citrix
  • Richard Stevens—Smith Anderson

“The Destination 2028 Plan outlines many great ideas to grow tourism in Wake County, it is now up to the public and private sectors working together to put this plan into action,” said Harvey Schmitt— President Emeritus, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Destination 2028 Blue Ribbon Task Force.

“The very same things that attract visitors to our area also drive talent recruitment and affect the quality of life for all residents within Wake County,” added Jim Hansen, PNC Regional President for Eastern Carolinas and member of the Destination 2028 Blue Ribbon Task Force. “This is why we hope the private sector takes partial ownership of the Destination 2028 Plan. It has potential to drive broader economic development for the region.”

Next Steps/Implementation:

  • JLL will be back in Raleigh/Wake County to meet with stakeholder groups (area municipalities, civic and community leaders etc.) in September to review key recommendations of the plan as well as to review DSP reports being customized to each town.
  • The Blue Ribbon Task Force of leaders who have agreed to serve in Destination 2028’s implementation also will convene in September
  • Stakeholders and partners are encouraged to spend some time reading the DSP, especially as it relates to their areas of interest. (Send plan-specific feedback or comments to JLL by going to and clicking on the “Submit Comments” tab until September 30.)
  • The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh) will have devoted staff resources to managing the implementation of Destination 2028 by Late 2018/Early 2019. Destination 2028 recommendations applicable to the GRCVB will be fully integrated into the Bureau’s annual business plans starting in 2019-2020.
  • Regular progress updates on the Destination 2028 Plan will appear in the GRCVB’s and e-newsletters.
  • The community is encouraged to read the Destination 2028 Plan as well as keep up-to-date with implementation efforts by visiting and subscribing to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (Visit Raleigh) Tourism Talk blog.

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. A Fortune 500 company, JLL helps real estate owners, occupiers and investors achieve their business ambitions. In 2016, JLL had revenue of $6.8 billion and fee revenue of $5.8 billion and, on behalf of clients, managed 4.4 billion square feet, or 409 million square meters, and completed sales acquisitions and finance transactions of approximately $145 billion. At the end of the second quarter of 2017, JLL had nearly 300 corporate offices, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of nearly 80,000. As of June 30, 2017, LaSalle Investment Management has $57.6 billion of real estate under asset management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit

About the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh)

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh), as the official destination marketing organization of Raleigh and Wake County, accelerates sustainable economic growth and development by increasing visitor and convention business. Raleigh, N.C./Wake County welcomes more than 16 million visitors annually whose spending tops $2.5 billion. The visitor economy supports more than 26,170 local jobs in Wake County and generates more than $250 million in state and local tax revenues, saving each Wake County household $671 in taxes annually.

Media Contact
Scott Peacock, Director of Public Relations and International Tourism
614.551.7981 (cell)

# # #