We’re talking a lot about the Destination Strategic Plan (DSP) around here these days (and these conversations are about to include many of you).

Our consulting partner, JLL, will be in town this week, conducting focus groups around the county and presenting at the GRCVB Annual Meeting, plus there will be online opportunities for everyone to weigh in starting now.

As we launch this process in earnest, we asked GRCVB president and CEO Dennis Edwards three questions about his hopes for the project. 

1. Why did the Bureau feel like this was the right time to take on a planning project of this magnitude?

“We just concluded a DestinationNEXT project that helped us identify some of the county's strengths, weaknesses and opportunities when it comes to tourism. This project clearly demonstrated that it was time that the county had a comprehensive, strategic, tourism development plan to address the county's needs to help drive overnight visitation. There will also be discussion in the near future in terms of what infrastructure should be funded from the interlocal tax funds. This study will provide a road map and plan for the elected officials on what product we need to enhance or build based on research and input from our clients, residents and stakeholders.” 

2. How do you hope Wake County hospitality partners will respond to the DSP project?

“It's critical that we hear from as many of our stakeholders and residents as possible. The hospitality community has interaction with visitors daily, and they have a pulse on what visitors are saying about Wake County: what they like, don't like and how they feel we need to improve the experience. Therefore, we are hoping the hospitality community will see the benefit in a 10-year Destination Strategic Plan and give us their feedback and suggestions.” 

3. If you were dreaming, what would tourism in Wake County look like in 2028?

“I'm going into this process with an open mind. However, by 2028, I want to increase our visitation from 15.6 million to at least 19.5 million visitors. Wake County will be one of the premier tourist destinations in the Southeast, attracting major national and international conventions and sporting events, bringing leisure visitors from all over the country and world. 

“The goal is to ensure that we have the infrastructure to support these new visitors and that they have an unique and fun experience so they will want to come back again and again.”