Visit Goldsboro, the travel and tourism department for the City of Goldsboro and Wayne County, announces the results of the resident and stakeholder surveys that were collected in the first half of 2021. The purpose of the surveys was to gather input from Wayne County residents and tourism stakeholders for how they view the current area offerings and what they would like to see, do, experience in the local area that would achieve greater quality of life and stronger leisure visitation to the area. The presentation of the survey findings can be found here: http://www.visitgoldsboronc.com/wp-content/uploads/Wayne-County-Tourism-Stakeholder-and-Resident-Survey-Results.pdf.
Two surveys were distributed this past spring. One survey was geared toward stakeholders and the other survey was for residents in Wayne County.
The stakeholder survey was sent to over 100 individuals who directly work in the travel and tourism sector or those in leadership roles for agencies that would directly benefit from tourism improvements. Out of the 63 stakeholders who participated in the survey, 81% of the stakeholders were located in Goldsboro, and the rest resided throughout Wayne County’s townships.
When asked what Wayne County’s greatest destination strengths were, the top five responses from stakeholders were: Seymour Johnson AFB (56%), Bryan Multi-Sports Complex (50%), Downtown Goldsboro (48%), the Maxwell Center (46%), and Busco Beach (37%). Stakeholders identified the main barrier for growth as: “A lack of must-see visitor experiences.” Additional barriers were identified as “negative mindsets” and “unattractive gateways to communities.” Stakeholders ranked the following areas that would have the most positive impact on Wayne County tourism: increased promotion of Goldsboro-Wayne County as a destination (39%), completion of I-42 to Raleigh (33%), a stronger and more positive image for the area (29%), more festivals and events and increased utilization of the Bryan Multi-Sports Complex (18%), and creation of an Air Force-themed attraction for visitors (16%) were the most popular opportunities among stakeholders.
The survey question regarding the single most important thing that Wayne County should do or build to attract more visitors generated a wide variety of responses, but the five main themes emerged as follows: 1) clean up the area and rehabilitate properties, 2) improve gateways leading into the community, 3) establish greater collaboration among entities, 4) develop a better image overall for the community, and 5) create new attractions and activities to attract visitors.
The resident survey was distributed to Wayne County residents via various local media platforms and made available at libraries in Goldsboro, Mount Olive, and Fremont. Eight-hundred and twenty-five residents participated in the survey with 58% of participants residing in Goldsboro, and the remaining 42% residing in Wayne County.
When asked what Wayne County’s greatest destination strengths were, the top five responses from residents were: downtown Goldsboro (60%), Seymour Johnson AFB (51%), parks, paddletrails, and other outdoor recreation opportunities (36%), Maxwell Center (30%), and Paramount Theatre (27%). Residents identified the main barrier for growth to be “nothing for visitors to do at night.” Additional barriers were “not enough must-see special events or festivals” and “a lack of must-see visitor experiences.” Residents ranked the following areas that would have the most positive impacts on Wayne County tourism: a stronger and more positive image for the area (35%), more festivals and events (32%), increased promotion of Goldsboro-Wayne County as a destination and completion of I-41 to Raleigh (29%), beautification of community gateways and downtown areas (25%), and creation of an Air Force-themed attraction for visitors (15%).
The residents provided hundreds of responses when asked to name the single most important thing that Wayne County should do or build to attract visitors. The five main themes emerged as follows: 1) develop new attractions and activities, 2) continue to enhance downtown, 3) improve shopping opportunities, 4) enhance image of the area, and 5) beautify gateways into the community and elsewhere.
A full listing of strengths, barriers, and opportunities for tourism’s growth are in the presentation here.
“The responses are a valuable, if not the most valuable, contribution to the Tourism Master Plan project. The public’s input serves as a mirror and a compass — giving us perspective and direction for what the plan should prioritize in the short and long term,” said Ashlin Glatthar, director of travel & tourism for Goldsboro-Wayne County. “It is important to share the results with the public so they know we heard them and are putting their thoughts and feelings to use. What struck me the most about the results was how well the perspectives align between stakeholders and residents. It tells us that we’re on the same page about what we feel is best to focus on going forward.”
The Tourism Master Plan project was commissioned in January 2020 by the Visit Goldsboro office and is facilitated by Asheville-based Magellan Strategy Group. The Tourism Master Plan is expected to be completed later in the fall of 2021.
The purpose of the Tourism Master Plan is to create a long-term plan for Goldsboro, Mount Olive, and Wayne County’s travel and tourism sector. The plan will provide an organized and structured framework for tourism development and promotion within Goldsboro-Wayne County. That includes things like planning for accommodations, transportation, tourist activities, legislation and regulation, and destination marketing and promotion. Essentially, the Tourism Master Plan is the roadmap for destination success. It is a crucial first step that will address three important questions: “Where are we?” “Where do we want to go?” “How do we get there?”
“This project will allow us to shift the perception of Goldsboro and Wayne County from just another place to stop on your way somewhere else, to being the destination people are headed to. Residents’ input will help guide us in our mission to make Wayne County a more desirable place to both visit and live,” shared Dustin Pike, Chairperson for the Wayne County TDA and Goldsboro Tourism Council.
“While Goldsboro-Wayne County has made significant strides over the last few years, from the revitalization of downtown Goldsboro to the addition of the Maxwell Center and Bryan Multi-Sports Complex, our department and boards felt it was the right time to channel this momentum into a plan for continued growth. This plan will be our roadmap to make strategic, research-based steps toward better destination marketing and adding more things to do to our market,” shared Ashlin Glatthar.
Prior to the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s travel market, a robust amount of data was gathered from past and potential visitors to understand how Goldsboro-Wayne County is viewed as a destination. The project paused for the majority of 2020 due to the effects of the pandemic. Now that travel is picking up again and research shows the travelers’ sentiment is growing more positive, the Visit Goldsboro office saw this as the right time to launch the surveys to better understand the opinions of area residents and answer the question of “where do we want to go?”
“This plan comes just at the right time as we begin to recover from one of the most difficult times in the travel and tourism sector. Now, more than ever, we have to position ourselves for growth and harness our potential toward becoming a more desirable place to live, visit, and work. Based on the participation numbers and responses, I am excited to see the public’s desire for a better tourism offering,” said Glatthar.