Matthew Lingers Over Elizabeth City's Tourism Economy

Jun 13, 2017

Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Credit Sarah Hamilton / Flickr

Elizabeth City is taking a hit to its tourism economy as crews continue to clean up a popular boating route that's been closed since Hurricane Matthew hit in October.

City manager Richard Olson said he usually sees more than 2,000 boats that travel along the Intracoastal Waterway every year, but only a handful of those have been there this year.

"What we have is individuals who go south for the winter time, so that's usually a fall migration," he said. "People go down to Florida, then they come back up usually around the first of April through the end of May."

The waterway has been cut off by fallen trees, and flooding moved too much sediment into the canal to let boats pass. 

Olson said visitors often spend their money at the city's harbor.

"We estimate between $100 to $125 per person. If the boat has two or three people, like most of them do, then it's between $100 and $125 per person, so it's a substantial amount," he said.

The Army Corps of Engineers hopes to open the Dismal Swamp Canal by this fall. It's the oldest operating man-made canal in the country.