Nancy Nicholls

Nancy Nicholls

After nearly three decades at the helm of the Chowan County Tourism Development Authority/Visit Edenton, Executive Director Nancy Nicholls has announced plans to retire. Nicholls’ official retirement date is set for May 1.

Nicholls’ announcement came at the TDA board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23. In 1992, Nicholls was the first person hired by the fledgling tourism development authority and has successfully guided tourism efforts in Edenton and Chowan County for 29 years.

Nicholls was tasked with implementing the vision of Chowan County commissioners, who recognized the increasing importance of tourism. Edenton’s history as NC’s first Colonial capital and its natural resources, such as the Albemarle Sound and Edenton Bay, made tourism a natural fit.

The TDA adopted the popular Visit Edenton brand during her tenure, and Nicholls traveled throughout the Southeast and mid-Atlantic to promote Edenton as a vacation destination. ‘‘‘She also worked closely with Visit NC and other tourism organizations to shine the spotlight on Chowan County.

Since the TDA’s founding, the economic impact of tourism in Chowan County has nearly tripled, from $8.54 million in 1991 to $24.1 million in 2019.

“Working collaboratively with local, regional and state partners has been key to the growth that has taken place in our wonderful community,” Nicholls said.

Throughout Nicholls’ tenure, the TDA has played a vital role in developing and promoting key projects, such as Edenton’s 300th anniversary celebration; the relocation of the 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse to Edenton’s harbor; and signature community events, including Cycle NC, Easels in the Garden, Edenton Pilgrimage of Historic Homes, and Christmas Candlelight Tour.

“It has been my privilege and honor to attract visitors to this special place,” Nicholls said. “The TDA is positioned well for this transition, and I hope the new director will enjoy every moment as I have.”

The Chowan County TDA board will immediately begin its search for a new director with the goal of having someone in place by the time Nicholls departs in May.