Chapel Hill, NC - (February 19, 2024) - The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau is proud to announce the release of the 2024 results from the Chapel Hill Orange County DestinationNEXT (DNEXT) Assessment.

Developed in collaboration with industry experts MMGY NextFactor, this study presents an in-depth analysis of the future trajectory of tourism in Orange County, delivering invaluable insights into the trends, challenges, and opportunities that will shape the region's visitor economy.

Key highlights from the study include:

Strengths of Orange County Tourism: The study underscores Orange County's leading position in the tourism sector, with commendable scores in destination alignment and strength. Notably, the county excels in areas such as arts, culture, outdoor recreation, attractions, and health and safety.

Community Alignment: A strong correlation emerges between tourism and community alignment, with the Visitors Bureau receiving high marks for its contributions to long-term economic development and alignment with local values. However, areas for improvement were identified, particularly in addressing workforce-related issues such as affordable housing, childcare, and healthcare for hospitality workers.

Challenges and Opportunities: Despite its strengths, Orange County faces challenges in key areas. Weaknesses identified include local mobility and access, prompting some respondents to prefer taking visitors to Durham. Additionally, concerns were raised regarding the variety and price points of area hotels, awareness of local conventions and meetings infrastructure, and the need for a larger public meeting space. Other concerns include the need to increase funding for major events, access from RDU Airport, awareness of parking facilities, homelessness, and the need for multi-language directional signage.

In addition to quantitative data, the study delves into respondent opinions through three open-ended questions, yielding valuable qualitative insights:

Visitor Preferences: Respondents highlighted popular destinations for hosting non-resident family and friends, including restaurants, UNC sporting events, outdoor/nature trails, cultural attractions, and downtown areas.

Local Assets Awareness: Limited knowledge among respondents about local farms and amenities suggests an opportunity for enhanced promotion and awareness-building.

UNC Sports Facility Use: Strong support exists for increasing the occasional use of UNC sports facilities for athletic and entertainment events, with suggestions for a taskforce to gain university support.

Furthermore, in a breakout section, participants emphasized the need for greater connectivity and cohesion among the three towns in Orange County, including transportation, shared events, and communications efforts.

Said Laurie Paolicelli, Executive Director, "These findings will inform our strategic initiatives as we continue to enhance the visitor experience and drive economic growth in our community."
The study also addresses global trends such as the rise of artificial intelligence, the demand for unique travel experiences, increased community involvement in tourism development, and a focus on sustainability.

For the complete 2024 DestinationNEXT Survey results for the Orange County Visitors Bureau, please visit this link.


About the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau: The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau serves as the official destination marketing organization for Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough, North Carolina. Funded by Orange County, the Visitors Bureau is committed to promoting the region as a vibrant and welcoming destination, the Visitors Bureau collaborates with stakeholders to drive tourism growth and economic development. 

Media Contact:
Laurie Paolicelli
(919) 245-4322