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With Presidents Cup, Charlotte is attracting more leisure travelers

On Flashpoint, tourism industry insiders say the trend in leisure travel is years in the making.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More than most other recent events, the Presidents Cup is bringing more attention to Charlotte as a world-class travel destination, tourism industry experts said on WCNC's Flashpoint.

"This one seems to have greater reach. And more successful, I think, in part because of the importance it has internationally," Tom Murray, CEO of Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, said.

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It comes as Charlotte is emerging as a post-pandemic destination for leisure travel, after years of being a city famous for business travel.

"The leisure side of the recovery happened first and quite frankly, happened stronger than we even expected," Murray said.

Murray said business travel is rebounding but hasn't returned to pre-pandemic levels. Charlotte has a long history of attracting convention travel as well. 

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"All the work that we were doing pre-pandemic, to grow from Charlotte as a leisure destination is happening, so we're now experiencing that," Murray said.

The return of travel, in all of its forms, is welcome news to Charlotte's tourism industry, still recovering from COVID-19.

"If you go back to March and April of last year, there were times where we were 90%, behind year over year.  We've got hotels in uptown Charlotte, where we sometimes had more employees working than we had people in the building," Vinay Patel, CEO of SREE Hotels, said.

Hotels, restaurants, and vacation rentals are now enjoying the business the Presidents Cup attracts, and hoping the tourism dollars continue.

"Charlotte is becoming an exciting city to visit, and really coming into its own these days," Murray added.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW SUNDAY AT 11 A.M. ON FLASHPOINT, ONLY ON WCNC CHARLOTTE.

Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly.
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