GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As businesses continue to open more, an expert from East Carolina University is looking into how the hospitality and tourism industry might rebound after the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 100 million tourism jobs were lost around the world because of COVID-19. But professionals think the industry will still make a comeback, with some changes. That includes people moving away from larger resort and hotel destinations.

As a result, smaller towns might become destination hot spots for people still uneasy about traveling.

“People feel more control and the trust issue that’s involved with those so that you’ve seen a variety of companies that have worked renovations on some of those beach motels in smaller locations,” said Dr. Bob O’Halloran, director of ECU’s School of Hospitality Leadership. 

That could mean more tourism coming into Eastern North Carolina thanks to our coastal communities. Morehead City annually holds the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament and the director said she’s expecting a big turnout this June. 

As we move into the summer months, O’Halloran believes there will be a spike in tourism, but it’s still going to take a while for some people to feel comfortable traveling as they did before COVID.