Parks and Recreation Professor Featured on Podcast About Sustainable Tourism
Whitney Knollenberg, an assistant professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State, recently appeared on Business North Carolina’s weekly podcast, “Chatter with BNC,” to discuss the importance of sustainable tourism development in the state. The podcast has about 28,000 monthly listeners.
Knollenberg joined Clark Twiddy, owner of Twiddy & Company, a hospitality firm that manages more than 1,100 vacation homes on the Outer Banks, and host David Mildenberg to discuss some of the ongoing challenges facing popular tourism destinations across North Carolina, as well as the Lighthouse Fund for Sustainable Tourism.
Established through a generous gift from Twiddy & Company, the Lighthouse Fund for Sustainable Tourism supports Knollenberg as she conducts research and outreach activities in the Outer Banks to gain a better understanding of the region’s tourism-related challenges and to identify future research opportunities that could lead to solutions.
A 200-mile chain of barrier islands located off the North Carolina coast, the Outer Banks region has long been a popular vacation destination, attracting millions of tourists every year. However, due in part to increased visitation during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, the region is now grappling with an affordable housing shortage and other challenges.
“We were starting to see major implications of COVID in the tourism industry in the Outer Banks. People were seeing it as a ‘safe’ place to go … They were coming in large numbers,” Knollenberg said. “It was frankly a really difficult time for the industry to be addressing this influx of tourism, which then just kept going … Clark had the foresight to say, ‘Hey, we need to be thinking about what we’re going to do in this situation and where it’s going to take us.'”
With support from the Lighthouse Fund for Sustainable Tourism, Knollenberg lived in the Outer Banks for two months during the summer of 2021 as she talked with 40 stakeholders about the region’s challenges. She and her undergraduate research assistants, Charanya Srinivasan and Micaela Nardino, have since completed case studies highlighting how other tourism communities are addressing a variety of challenges – from workforce housing to coastal degradation.