If Charles Dickens had been choosing the theme for this year’s GRCVB Annual Meeting, I have a feeling he would have gone with "A Tale of Two Cities,”—it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The Raleigh area's tourism story for 2019-2020 reads like a tale of two cities—one before COVID-19, when we recorded our best year ever. The number of visitors set a record and their spending was also record-setting, which translated into additional tax dollars and more of the benefits that tourism brings to any community.

The other part of the story is about COVID-19 impacts. We, like everyone else, have experienced the closures, decreases and drop-offs throughout the county like never before. And the hospitality community has been hit as hard as anybody (or more).

This year’s Not Your Ordinary Annual Meeting (I’m writing this on Thurs., Aug. 20, the day which was supposed to be our usual annual luncheon) is going virtual and is scheduled for this Wed., Aug. 26, 2020, at 10am. There are still a few slots left and you can register here for free:


On the agenda is the good news—those stellar 2019 numbers, which represent increases across the board. (We should have been celebrating today.) That section of the report is followed by the not-so-good news—the cost of COVID-19 to Wake County’s hospitality industries, the jobs lost and an outline of the projects that were part of the Destination Strategic Plan's implementation that have been delayed.

We will also be sharing how GRCVB has responded to the crisis and the work we have been doing behind the scenes during the downtime. (I checked; we have had 477 GoToMeeting calls on the CVB's account since March, for instance.)

We will also talk about the recovery marketing plan (which we started working on months ago).

You will also hear from Leon Cox, general manager of the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel and current chair of the GRCVB Board of Directors. And we are leaving time at the end for questions from you about all of it—the good or the bad.

Here’s the encouraging part. We will turn a corner (perhaps we already have and we just don’t know it) and we will see brighter days ahead. I suspect if Dickens was scripting, the theme of the next part would be “Great Expectations.”