Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Two new Durham visitor features

Durham has certainly starred when it comes to building or launching new visitor-related facility and events. More than 20 have been launched over the last 10 years, and another 10 are under development. These stats mask that the new developments include hundreds of new restaurants and 30 new lodging facilities with nearly 3,000 rooms.

In the next two weeks, though, two huge new visitor features will open in Durham. The $25 million expansion and update of the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club will be complete, and the $23 million Nasher Museum of Art will open.

I know from a sneak peek how spectacular Nasher will be. Attendance at art museums has risen considerably over the last few years just as attendance at performing arts has stagnated and Broadway touring attendance has plummeted. It's all about a fast growing consumer behavior that the RAND Corporation reports call “consumption by appointment.” Flexibility has become a critical leisure time variant, and with museums, you can come and go on your own schedule.

Nasher also completes a full- to half-day culture trail with the new Art Museum, Duke Gardens, Duke Chapel and the Duke Sports Hall of Fame all in a walk.

WADU as we affectionately refer to the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club is one of the highest-rated properties in the State and the bellwether of Durham’s 6 total major convention hotels and 60 overall lodging properties. The renovation provided more meeting space, more guest rooms and Durham’s third legitimate business conference center.

For more info on new visitor developments go to http://www.durham-nc.com/stats/news_story_ideas/new_visitor_developments.php.

Lest we forget, though, experts have identified “build it and they will come” as a very dangerous paradigm for communities. Leisure travelers in particular always make a decision about where to do before considering what to do, etc. Durham, compared to competitors, puts much less of its occupancy tax to work for the purpose for which it was pioneered--destination marketing or the activity of drawing visitors to make these new facilities sustainable.

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