Outer Banks non-profits, towns receive $1.5 million in Tourism Impact Grant Awards

Published 12:46 pm Wednesday, December 20, 2023

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The Dare County Board of Commissioners on November 6, 2023 unanimously approved the distribution of more than $1.58 million in Tourism Impact Grants to local non-profits and several governmental entities to support programs and services needed due to the impact of tourism.

Sponsored annually by the Dare County Tourism Board, these grants help fund important community initiatives that enhance the quality of life for Dare County residents and the quality of experience for visitors, and may include multi-use paths, beach accesses, environmental sustainability initiatives and capital projects at cultural and historical attractions.

“As we continually explore ways to balance the benefits and challenges of visitation to Dare County, our Tourism Impact Grants are a shining example of how we’re leveraging the power of tourism to do more good in and for this special community,” notes Lee Nettles, executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.

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A few programs and services that were approved as part of the 2023-24 Tourism Impact Grants funding process include:

  • Restoration of the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station in commemoration of its 150thanniversary in 2024 as North Carolina’s first U.S. Lifesaving Service station, known in modern times as the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Construction of an ADA-compliant elevated dune crossover, parking stalls and shower station at Governor Street Public Beach Access in Nags Head.
  • Development of a nature trail at the Frisco Native American Museum that includes educational trail signs, adding benches and developing a trail workbook.
  • Constructing a multi-use path on the west side of Hwy 158 in Kitty Hawk that will connect sidewalks from Kitty Hawk to Kill Devil Hills.
  • Creation of two interactive exhibits at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island focused on the importance of oyster conservation to clean water habitats in the area.
  • Construction of a universal playground at Kitty Hawk Elementary School with enhanced safety materials and accessible playground equipment for children of all abilities, open to the public outside of school hours.

“Over the past several years, we have been extremely fortunate to have received Tourism Impact Grants that have allowed us to improve the quality of experience for everyone who enjoys our parks,” explains Jessica Barnes, Director at Outer Banks Forever, the official non-profit partner of the three national parks on the Outer Banks. “These grants have assisted with funding for important and tangible projects that not only improve the overall quality of an experience, but also contribute to enhancing mobility and access, environmental sustainability and the economic growth of our area.”

With a desire to improve inclusivity at The Elizabethan Gardens, Executive Director Theresa Armendarez spoke to the impact such grant funding will provide to patrons in the near future. “With an annual attendance of approximately 50,000 guests, enhancing accessibility to and within our sensory garden will allow those with wheelchairs, walkers and dementia to more easily navigate our pathways,” she explains. “This grant allows us to deliver a more inclusive experience to all who visit.”

Since 1992, the Dare County Tourism Board has awarded more than 700 grants to over 150 Dare County non-profits and municipalities, reflecting more than $22 million in funding for projects and services that provide a tangible and sustained benefit for the Outer Banks community.