First Posted: 10/22/2009
Two months after the Harley Owners Group roared in and out of town, survey results are in that show the economic impact the state rally had on Mount Airy.
Jessica Icenhour, director of tourism, and other staff members of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce collected almost 500 surveys from bikers during the rally to conduct an economic-impact study.
Dr. Erick Byrd at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro analyzed the data along with students in the School of Human Health and Performance – Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality Program.
According to the survey results, rally attendees spent an estimated $356,500 in the community. The average party size was 3.5 people, and each party spent an average of $713. One group even spent $7,458.
Icenhour said, I think thats a pretty good impact figure.
Jean Collins was the coordinator for the HOG Rally. She said, I was really, really happy with the results.
Another figure shows that 98 percent of the survey respondents plan to visit the Mount Airy area again in the future.
Isnt that great, Collins exclaimed. She said shes spoken to many people at other Harley-Davidson events who said theyve already come back to Mount Airy since the rally.
Icenhour said several people have come to the visitors center recently who went to the HOG Rally. Collins said she thinks many people liked Mount Airy because it was a friendly town, had reasonable hotel rates and was biker-friendly.
On the survey, some main aspects respondents said they liked about the area were the scenery, both natural and downtown, and the local people.
The survey also revealed other helpful information for the chamber:
On average the visitor stayed 2.4 nights.
61 percent of the event attendees were from North Carolina and 10 percent were from South Carolina.
74.8 percent of the event attendees stayed in a hotel.
The average party size was 3.5 adults and .05 children.
55 percent of the respondents were visiting the Mount Airy area for the first time.
This is the first time I know of that a true scientific study of (the rally) was done, noted Collins.
The HOG Rally came to Mount Airy Aug. 19-22, and it boasted 1,750 registered attendees. The rally participants came from 26 states and countries as far away as Canada and Great Britain.
Similar to the HOG Rally survey, a study was done last year of the Autumn Leaves Festival. Other economic-impact studies are currently being done with Byrd at UNCG. The events studied include Mayberry Days, Hot Nights and Hot Cars Cruise-In held in Pilot Mountain, and the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival in Elkin.
Icenhour said the HOG Rally study was done for free by Byrd and his students. She said, Its great, because it measures the success of the event.
She explained that the town was able to get a lot of HOG Rally participants to fill out the survey because it entered their names in a drawing for a free weekend stay in Mount Airy. She hopes more people will choose to return for weekend stays.
The thriving tourism industry in Surry County is responsible for a significant amount of money brought into the area that continues to generate money to our local economy, Icenhour said. Mount Airy and Surry County will continue to focus on positioning itself as an outstanding leisure destination and bring in even more tourism dollars in the future.
She added, We are already in the planning stages with some of these events such as the 2010 Vietnam Veterans of America reunion and the 2011 Oasis Fall Shriners Convention that will represent the western counties of North Carolina including Mecklenburg County. This event will secure at the minimum over 300 hotel rooms in the area and could bring in over 1,000 attendees. Mount Airy is already in the process of bidding on other meetings and conventions that have not yet been announced.
Contact Meghann Evans at [email protected] or 719-1952.