CHAPEL HILL – You may have noticed a lot of new faces in town this past year. That’s because Chapel Hill’s Visitor’s Bureau reported an increase in tourism to the town.

Director of the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitor’s Bureau, Laurie Paolicelli, says that June was one of the best months the town has had in years, with hotel occupancy up 12 percent.

“We ended June with a 77 percent occupancy, which is startling and amazing on many levels,” Paolicelli says. “In the past, June has always been a part of what we call the shoulder season. This area follows a traditional academic year and June has typically been slower.”

Paolicelli attributes a number of different factors to June’s high numbers, including the return of the Carolina Inn and a meeting held by a Wisconsin health care technology company.

In fact, she says meetings and business conferences are now a major target of the Visitor’s Bureau, devoting a 200 percent budget increase in that type of outreach.

“We buy lists, we do direct sales, we do online advertising and marketing, we attend trade shows, we ask for the business,” Paolicelli says. “We’re a very traditional sales agency.

Paolicelli says the Visitor’s Bureau expects similar increases in visitation in July and August.