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An influx of tourists means bigger business for Chapel Hill and the University

An increase in tours brings business to town and university


Anna Eusebio shows a group of prospective students and their families around campus. The increase in tours during the spring helps boost local business.

This week’s flood of campus tours have an effect on more than just students’ paths to class.

The influx of tourists has a significant impact on business for the University and Chapel Hill.

Andrew Parrish, an undergraduate admissions assistant director, said 8,000 visitors are registered for tours in the next two weeks — and that number may grow.

To accommodate them, there will be four tour times a day for the next two weeks instead of the usual two, said Nestor Ramirez, an admissions ambassador.

Patty Griffin, communications director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, said businesses in Chapel Hill look forward to the spring because of the business it brings.

Jenni Brooks, assistant retail manager at Johnny T-Shirt, said the business always makes sure it has “Carolina” and alumni T-shirts in stock.

“Most people want to leave a college tour with a T-shirt,” she said.

Dennis Wiley, shift manager at Cold Stone Creamery on Franklin Street, said new faces on campus mean new business for them.

And Sam Wright, general manager at McAlister’s Deli, echoed the others’ sentiments. She said business increases in the spring thanks to a combination of tour groups as well as the warmer weather.

And the visitors have a noticeable impact on campus businesses, too.

“It certainly helps our sales,” said Scott Myers, director of food and vending at UNC.

Myers said sales usually drop in the spring because people tend to spend more time outdoors.

“What it really does is offset a normal pattern of less business,” Myers said.

“It’s not like you’re moving a bunch more merchandise, but it’s a lot more visible because visitors will come in all at one time.”

But he said the idea is to create a good environment, not to cash in on the visitors.

“We want to set a good image for the University,” Myers said. “And we want to be a positive part of the experience for why people would select to go to Carolina. So that’s our main intent.”

John Gorsuch, director of Student Stores, also said campus visitors have a distinct impact on sales.

“Carolina is a very popular brand, and when people visit our campus, they want to get something from the store,” Gorsuch said. “So we see very good business from these visitors.”

Gorsuch said that while visitors bolster sales, Student Stores serves the entire community and also sees business from faculty, staff, current students and alumni.

“We take care of the community,” Gorsuch said.

“A lot goes with those football Saturdays — a lot of returning alumni coming into the store again,” he added.

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Gorsuch said people come because they are considering UNC, so he does not view them as tourists.

“There are potential students and families at one end, then you’ve got current students and their families, and then at the other end of the spectrum you’ve got alumni,” Gorsuch said.

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