Today, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) Secretary Reid Wilson visited the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher to highlight investments in the aquarium from the 2021-22 state budget and kick off the summer tourism season in North Carolina.
“Our state is full of places that bring thousands of people to North Carolina every year, from our world-class hiking trails in the mountains to the beaches and aquariums here on the coast,” Governor Cooper said. “It’s critical that we invest in places like the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher that make our tourism industry strong and successful.”
“State-supported sites in southeastern North Carolina host more than 4 million visitors annually which benefits the local economy,” said Secretary Wilson. “The aquarium, state parks and recreational areas, historic sites, Battleship NC, and museums are drivers of tourism and require ongoing investments to continue offering excellent visitor experiences.”
“Governor Cooper’s visit energizes the team at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher in our commitment to conservation both in our operation and in the immersive experiences that engage visitors to protect animals and habitats.” Hap Fatzinger, Director, North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. “The Governor’s support of an additional $10 million toward our expansion, funds a new conservation wing while enhancing inclusion and access to magnificent animals in a natural setting –a stunning reminder to take action to preserve our natural treasures.”
In November 2021, Governor Cooper signed the state budget into law. In this budget, the Fort Fisher Aquarium received $10 million in the 2021-2022 Fiscal State Budget. The Governor’s recommended budget for FY 2022-2023 includes an additional $10 million for the aquarium. These funds will be used to help fund a proposed renovation to improve the accessibility and inclusion needs and highlight the conservation efforts of the aquarium, including a rooftop deck to overlook the marsh and beach, equipped with solar panels to highlight the aquarium’s clean energy goals.
In May, the North Carolina Department of Commerce announced that the North Carolina tourism industry saw a major recovery in 2021. North Carolina hosted nearly 45 million visitors last year, and they spent over $79 million per day. The hospitality industry in North Carolina employs over 400,000 people, and 200,000 people work in the tourism industry alone.
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher hosts thousands of visitors every year. It is one of four Aquariums housed under NCDNCR that teaches visitors about North Carolina’s coasts and conservation efforts.