Raleigh, N.C. — Despite a weak economy for much of last year, tourists spent a record $16.9 billion in North Carolina in 2008, officials said Wednesday.
Tourism spending increased in 62 of North Carolina's 100 counties, with 16 counties posting increases of more than 5 percent, according to data from the state Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development.
Spending was up 2.1 percent from 2007.
“We know that current economic conditions are affecting businesses all across the state, including those in the tourism industry,” Gov. Beverly Perdue said in a statement. “But this continued economic growth, and especially growth in tax revenues, is encouraging.”
Wake County trailed only Mecklenburg County in revenue from U.S. tourists, with more than $1.5 billion. Durham County saw $550 million in tourism spending,while Cumberland County saw $391 million.
Visitor expenditures directly created 190,500 jobs and nearly $4.2 billion in payroll income. Payroll increased 3.9 percent from 2007.
The revenue also generated close to $2.7 billion in tax revenue for federal, state and local governments in 2008, up 3.6 percent from 2007.
The visitor spending figures come from an annual study commissioned by the Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development and conducted by the U.S. Travel Association. The study uses sales and tax revenue data plus employment figures to determine the overall impact of visitor spending in North Carolina.