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Tourism, turtle nests set records in Dare County

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 21, 2013 at 11:00 am •  Published: January 21, 2013
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He's ordered $60,000 of stock for this year, but his survival relies mainly on the road staying open. "The road is precarious enough that on a hard nor'easter, we could be closed again," he said.

Just a mile south down N.C. 12 sits Cafe 12, a restaurant where business has improved every year since John and Kathy King bought it in April 2007.

"We had a good year overall," John King said. "The killer was when Sandy went through. That hurt bad. After Irene, we still got October and November. This year, we got Labor Day, but it wiped out October, November and December."

One reason for the difference in the two businesses may be a change in the type of visitor Hatteras attracts.

Locals say they've noticed more people who want to sit on the beach or in hot tubs and fewer fishermen. More fancy SUVs and fewer sand- and salt-weathered off-road vehicles. And that translates into more people who want to eat out.

"When we first came down, from Labor Day on, it was basically all fishermen," King said. "They were here to fish for the big drum, the big bluefish and stuff. Most of them were running around in old four-wheel-drive pickups."

Because of the change in the type of vacationer attracted to Hatteras, Folb is changing the type of stock he orders for his store. For this year, he's ordered more of the $100-and-under fishing rods for vacationers casting line for the first time and fewer of the heavy-duty rods for those who want to head out to Cape Point when the blues are running.

"We're used to a 10-month season," he said. "And our season in the fishing business is becoming shorter and shorter."

Youngman, who has vacationed on Hatteras since she was a child, said she understands the locals are concerned about the changes brought on by the wildlife protection rules.

"I've heard them explaining their fears," she said. "I know change can seem difficult. I think these tourism and wildlife and visitation numbers show the change was not as devastating as predicted by some."

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Martha Waggoner can be reached at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc