Tourism Officials Optimistic About Fall

by Dave on August 26, 2010

Scott Thomas of Southern Delaware Tourism addresses the crowd at the Virden Center in Lewes Wednesday.

Before the leaves change colors this year, there may be an extended period of green for the local economy, according to business & tourism officials.

About 35 people representing area hotels, restaurants, historical societies, chambers of commerce and more gathered together at the Virden Center in Lewes on Wednesday, August 25th to brainstorm ideas for the fall and to hear from local tourism officials on efforts to draw visitors in the second season.

“Fall is no longer a secret to all of the travelers,” proclaimed host Scott Thomas of Southern Delaware Tourism. “What was once known as a ‘shoulder season’ is now sort of an extended season. People prefer to come in September and October to take advantage of the weather, some smaller crowds, and of course fall means festival season.”

One of the earliest of those fall festivals is the Bethany Beach Arts Festival, which will be an exicting day, according to Carrie Subity of the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce.

“One of our signature events is the Bethany Beach Boardwalk & Downtown Arts Festival on September 11th,” said Subity. “We have 120 artists from all over the country for the 32nd edition of the festival.”

Subity adds that the “Quiet Resorts” are expecting an active fall, weather depending.

“A lot of the rental agencies are doing long weekends, tailored to the young families and people who prefer September and October,” said Subity. “So we’re looking at a very strong offseason. If the weather holds, it will be very strong. With all of our second-home owners, if the weather’s good, they will be here.”

While Thomas notes that “all of our festivals are getting wider attention, even outside our region,” many of the mainstays of festival season center around Rehoboth Beach. And Rehoboth-Dewey Chamber executive director Carol Everhart is excited, too.

“When September comes along, we have all of these new activities and annual activities which are wired into the hotels and restaurants,” said Everhart. “Everything from the Jazz Festival to the Sea Witch Festival to our sidewalk sales. The hotel rates go down, people come out for the activities. Fun trumps everything.”

The largest of those Rehoboth Beach festivals is the 21st annual Sea Witch Festival, this year taking place October 29-31.

“Sea Witch is 21 years old this year, and it has grown every year,” said a proud Everhart, whose organization produces the evemt. “Over the three days, there are over 150,000 people. It’s the largest event that we know of in Delaware other than NASCAR.”

As with most festivals, visitors can see some new things this year.

“We’ve added some new activities this year, more for the little ones this year,” adds Everhart. “We’ve added to Friday, which people had asked for. We’ve added four new bands to the parade. And that’s all in addition to the tried and true – the broom toss, Sea Witch hunt, horse show on the beach, all of the craziness will be there.”

Another focuse of tourism officials is ecotourism, which invites people to enjoy the variety of outdoor experiences the area has to offer.

On hand at the event was Heather Kenton of the Delaware Tourism Office, who told of the success that the Tourism Office had with their geocaching trail in 2010, and Mark Carter of Dogfish Head, who discussed the brewery’s upcoming Dogfish Dash and efforts to increase kayak and canoe traffic on the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.

“A lot of outdoor enthusiasts will come to take advantage of these opportunities,” added Thomas. “Southern Delaware is an ecotourism paradise.”

For a list of fall events, visit our calendar at CoastalSussex.com/calendar any time, or point your browser to VisitSouthernDelaware.com for special deals and packages.

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