Raleigh, N.C. — Visitor spending rose in each of North Carolina's 100 counties last year, including double-digit increases in Wake, Chatham and five other counties, officials said Tuesday.
Domestic visitors to and within North Carolina spent a record $18 billion in 2011, an increase of 8 percent from 2010, according to data from the state Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development. They generated almost $1 billion in state taxes and $561 million in local taxes last year.
Visitor expenditures directly generated 187,900 jobs and more than $4 billion in payroll income statewide last year, officials said.
“Tourism means jobs," Gov. Beverly Perdue said in a statement. “More than 37 million people experienced what makes this state such a desirable destination, from our wondrous coast and breathtaking mountains to our lively cities and fascinating towns.”
The U.S. Travel Association, which compiles the data for the state, found that visitors contributed more than $1.7 billion to the Wake County economy. Only Mecklenburg County had a bigger economic impact, at $4.1 billion.
Visitor spending was up 10.2 percent in Wake County and 10.8 percent in Chatham County in 2011. Davidson, Forsyth, Mecklenburg, Anson and Alamance counties also saw visitor spending jump by at least 10 percent.
“It was an outstanding year for tourism in Wake County, and we are pleased to announce record growth in both leisure and business travel,” Denny Edwards, president and chief executive of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a statement.
Almost three-fourths of the record 11.63 million people coming to Wake County are leisure visitors, according to a study by D.K. Shifflet and Associates. Forty-five percent are in the area for a day-trip, while the rest spend at least one night in the area.