Tar Heel State keeps drawing them in

Spending by out-of-state visitors breaks new records
May. 09, 2014 @ 06:40 PM

Visitor spending for North Carolina has hit a new record in 2013, increasing 4.1 percent from 2012.

The U.S. Travel Association study shows that North Carolina is the sixth most visited state for domestic travel, with a visitor volume of 52.5 million.

The study found that domestic travelers spent $20.2 billion in 2013, up from $19.4 billion in 2012. Travelers directly contributed more than 25 percent to more than 40,000 businesses’ total products and services this year.

“Everyone in North Carolina can feel the benefits of the tourism industry’s success,” state Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker said in a release. “Tourism means jobs in all of the state’s 100 counties. In addition, each North Carolina household saves $435 annually in state.”

The U.S. Travel Association released the numbers Wednesday in the midst of North Carolina Tourism Week.

About a dozen North Carolina organizations representing tourism, recreation and North Carolina culture gathered at Welcome Centers across the state to celebrate.

Representatives from Warren and Granville counties spent Friday at the Welcome Center on Interstate 85 in Warren County.

Travelers stopped by to get peanut samples, hear old tunes on a recorder and collect souvenirs of shirts, cups and flyers from more than a dozen organization set up outside the facility.

Vance County spent the week at the Welcome Center in Norlina.

“It’s usually a pretty busy day because people are traveling for graduations and mother day,” said Nancy Wilson, executive director and events promoter for Vance County tourism.

Local tourism departments are excited to see local numbers, set to release in the coming months.

Figures released last year showed a positive trend. Tourists spent $42.75 million in Vance County in 2012, an increase of 2.4 percent over the previous year.

In Granville County, tourism spending reached $42.97 million, up 5.1 percent over 2011.

In Warren County, tourists spent $25.29 million, an increase of 7 percent over 2011.

Officials said they hope that upward momentum will continue.

“We have no reason to believe that we won’t continue this nice steady increase that we’ve had in the past,” said Peggy Richardson, economic development coordinator for Warren County.

Wilson said she thinks positive trends will continue, too.

“We are very pleased with our 2012 numbers, and we had great turnout at our annual events and antique and classic car show this year,” she said.

The U.S. Travel Association also released the following data for North Carolina:

• North Carolina’s domestic market share increased from 4 percent to 4.3 percent.

• For every $1 invested by the Division of Tourism in paid media advertising, North Carolina receives $191 in new visitor spending, $10.31 in new state taxes and $6.25 in new local taxes. This is nearly a 17-to-1 return on investment of tax dollars.

• For every $1 invested by the Division of Tourism is paid media advertising, one trip is generated to the state.

Visitors to North Carolina generated more than $3 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2013.

State tax receipts as a result of visitor spending passed the $1 billion mark in 2013. The figure represents 4 percent in growth over 2012’s $970 million.

• Local tax receipts from visitor spending grew 3.1 percent to $597.3 million.

• Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased nearly 2.1 percent, to 197,700. The majority of the growth was in lodging, transportation, food service and retail employment.

• Direct tourism payroll increased 3.8 percent to $4.6 billion.

• Visitors spend more than $55 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds more than $4.4 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $2.8 million in state taxes and $1.6 million in local taxes).

• Each North Carolina household saves $435 in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state.

Tourism Week in North Carolina is part of the National Travel & Tourism Week, which also runs May 3-11.


Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.