Demand, lower gas prices fuel Carolinas tourism

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Demand for vacations after a wearying recession and a break in gas prices are expected to mean a stronger summer tourism season in the Carolinas where the industry means $35 billion to the economies of the two states.

But gas prices still aren't low enough to keep business owners from worrying. Many attractions and restaurant owners fret people will spend so much to get their destinations they may not have cash for extras.

And hotel and resort owners may not make more money. Many are holding room rates down to keep bargain-hunting vacationers from going elsewhere. Chip Stevens, owner of Blackbeard's Lodge on Ocracoke Island on North Carolina's Outer Banks, says some of his customers are using the money they save on lodging on extras like bicycle rentals or souvenirs.

Renee Elder reported from Raleigh, N.C.

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