HUNTERSVILLE – Visit Lake Norman is on track to set a record for bringing fishing tournaments, soccer competitions and other large groups of money-spending visitors to the Lake Norman area.
Huntersville Commissioner Ken Lucas, who represents the town on the regional tourism agency’s board, told the town board Monday, Feb. 21, that visiting groups spent almost $12 million in the 2010 budget year, according to Visit Lake Norman’s calculations. And at the midpoint of the current 2011 budget year, the agency estimates groups it has drawn to the area have spent almost $11 million.
Lucas noted two national fishing tournaments coming to Lake Norman this spring are either new or returning for the first time in years. One is the Bass Pro Shops Bassmasters Southern Open taking place March 24 to 26 and featuring 400 of the top professional anglers in the world.
Lucas wasn’t the only one singing the tourism agency’s praises Monday night.
During the public comment section, Sherry Roper said she handles sales for two Marriott hotels, which account for 20 percent of all the hotel rooms in the Huntersville area. Roper told Huntersville commissioners the Visit Lake Norman staff “have done so much for our area.”
Roper credited the group for bringing a huge soccer tournament to the area in late January.
“I truly feel we could not have what we have if it was not for” the Visit Lake Norman staff and their director, Sally Ashworth, Roper said. “If we don’t have Visit Lake Norman, we’re going to lose a lot of revenue.”
Though Lucas’ and Roper’s reports drew no response from the Huntersville board Monday, they come a few weeks after Mayor Jill Swain and the mayors of Cornelius and Davidson appointed a new Travel and Tourism Task Force. In announcing the task force, the mayors said they want to get “fresh viewpoints” on the best use of town money now going to Visit Lake Norman.