Raleigh, N.C. — A record 14.3 million people visited the Raleigh area in 2014, according to stats released Wednesday by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The number is a 7.7 percent increase from the previous year.
When people visit, they spend money. Last year's visitors contributed $2.2 billion in direct spending to the local economy.
The bureau hired independent contractors, D.K. Shifflet and Associates and Tourism Economics, to estimated key tourism statistics.
Here's what they found:
- Last year, tourism to the Raleigh area generated more than $219 million in state and local tax revenues. Those revenues helped save each Wake County household more than $627. This is because tourism-generated tax receipts are used for education, school construction, water, sewer and other necessities for residents. Without the tax revenues, local tax payers would be filling in that gap.
- In 2014, Wake County set records including an average hotel occupancy rate of 67.9 percent (a year-over-year increase of 6.7 percent), as well as a 5.5-percent year-over-year increase in area hotels’ average daily rate (to $91.31). Lodging tax collections totaled $20.26 million, up 13 percent year-over-year, and prepared food and beverage collections rose nine percent in 2014, amounting to $23 million.
- Tourism continues to be one of the largest employment sectors in Wake County.
- Raleigh has seen above average job growth in the tourism industry with an estimated $656 million in labor income paid to local hospitality sector employees in last year. In 2014, more than 24,461 local jobs were sustained directly by visitation to the Raleigh area.
Note: The term visitor isn't just people vacationing in the area. It is also applied to business travelers, day-trippers and others in the area.