What Level of Tourism Traffic Should be planned for in North Carolina’s Major Tourism Areas

Joseph Wilck1, *, Paul Kauffmann2, Paul Lynch3
1 William & Mary School of Business, Virginia, United States
2 Department of Engineering, East Carolina University, North Carolina, United States
3 Penn State, Behrend, Department of Industrial Engineering, Pennsylavia, United States

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Creative Commons License
© 2019 Wilck et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the William & Mary Business School, Virginia, United States; Tel: 1-757-221-2894; E-mail:



The purpose of this research is to provide the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) with an execution strategy for using traffic counts in high tourism areas to aid in the development of Comprehensive Transportation Plans (CTPs). Due to the high variability of traffic counts in these localities, it is arbitrary to apply the typical weekday traffic count as the reference metric for developing the CTPs for these areas.


A literature review and assessment of best practices, forecasting models, and implementation strategies are provided. The first and primary recommendation with respect to Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) calculations and planning is to incorporate peak-usage and directionality; whether it be hourly or monthly. Urban areas will have AADT values similar to the design value. However, seasonal areas, such as tourist locations, will have significant differences between the design value and the AADT.


While other states (notably Nevada and Florida) have incorporated peak-hour usage ratios into their planning forecasts, the recommendation in this report suggests using an average of the two busiest months (as shown in the case studies) when peak-hour usage rates are unknown.


The primary recommendations should be addressed tactically (i.e., 3-5 years), and phased-in as resources are available. Other recommendations should be addressed strategically (i.e., 5-10 years), and phased-in as resources are available. Future work, including simulation modeling could be completed to test different levels of funding and to compare different approaches.

Keywords: Traffic, Tourism, AADT, CTP, Transportation planning, Transportation metrics.