By Joy Crist, Island Free Press
As the visitors arrive on Hatteras Island in coming weeks, they will be greeted to a more colorful and welcoming landscape, thanks to the newly launched Hatteras Island Business Association.
Created April 29, the brand new organization was formed in an effort to generate a more positive message for homeowners and visitors who will be returning to the Outer Banks in the weeks and months to come.
“That was our goal,” says one of the organization’s six founders, Megan Vayette. “It started when Steve at the Tavern on 12 noticed and shared a negative social media post about [returning homeowners] and said ‘This is crazy – we have to do something.’ So that’s what we did.”
Vayette quickly teamed up with a handful of other business owners on the island who felt the same way, and their mission statement was made clear with their inaugural April 29 post:
“Hatteras Island Business Association has come about as a result of the recent negative reaction concerning the reopening of Hatteras Island to non-resident property owners & tourists.
While we might not all agree on the right time for the island to reopen, we do realize that tourism makes up a large portion of the revenue generated here on Hatteras.
It is not important that we agree on the proper time and procedure for re-opening, but it is important that we present a welcoming spirit to those we rely upon for our livelihood.
We have one goal here. To promote the businesses of Hatteras Island and create an environment where we can thrive and prosper.”
“None of us are vocal on whether we think or don’t think the island should open, but we agree that whatever happens, we need to be welcoming, and we need to put our best foot forward,” says Vayette. “Our goal is to blast it all over social media, and let the positivity be so loud that it squashes the negativity.”
The newly created logo is also a reflection of this goal, and stars a pineapple with Cape Hatteras Lighthouse stripes – a nod to the pineapple’s significance as a historic symbol of hospitality, which dates back to southern Colonial times.
So far, the group has attracted more than 120 Hatteras Island business owner members to its private social media group, and more than 600 fans to its public Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/HatterasIslandBA/.
Already, the Hatteras Island Business Association has launched two initiatives to keep spreading positivity throughout the island, which includes the newly launched “Welcome” ribbon campaign.
Over the course of a couple of days, Sun Flowers Florist on Hatteras Island created 100 blue and yellow ribbons for businesses to display as a sign of welcome for new arrivals – and Vayette, who has been canvassing the island and passing them out, says only a handful are left. “We plan to make more, for sure,” she says.
The group is also asking that business owners spruce up their signs to display messages of welcome, with many businesses happily complying.
In addition to the visible welcome throughout the island, the Hatteras Island Business Association is also taking their campaign to the online realm, with the additional launch of the new #HatterasLoveStory initiative.
This second endeavor asks visitors, locals and homeowners to share their Hatteras Love Story – and the personal reasons behind their attachment to the island – to social media
“There’s a reason why you fall in love with Hatteras – and that’s your Hatteras love story,” says Vayette.
Folks are encouraged to share their stories on the public Facebook page for the Hatteras Island Business Association at https://www.facebook.com/HatterasIslandBA/, and the group is also garnering new fans with raffles, gift certificates, and other promotions.
“We’re doing a drawing today, and will start another one soon in hopes of growing our audience,” says Vayette.
And although the group was founded to drown out the negativity, there’s a bright future ahead for the Hatteras Island Business Association.
In the months to come, as the conversations and concerns of the day shift from COVID-19, the group hopes to be a permanent voice for Hatteras Island businesses.
“The long-term goal is to move on to a real organization, where we are representing the business of Hatteras, because [such an organization] does not exist,” says Vayette. “We need a large voice in Dare County, and we would like to work together to grow our tourism down here.”
“We definitely see this turning into something great, and growing into something that could really help this island.”
In the meantime, Vayette and the roughly 120 members of the Hatteras Island Business Association hope that the “welcome” campaigns will continue to spread, and become the dominant message and story when it comes to the island’s response to returning homeowners and visitors.
“It’s been fun to watch the ribbons sprinkled across the islands,” says Vayette. “We want to be welcoming, and we want [visitors and residents] to know that this is the majority [mindset.]”
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.