Visitor spending hits record $17.1B in N.C.

Posted August 5, 2008 12:36 p.m. EDT
Updated August 5, 2008 12:40 p.m. EDT

— Visitor spending increased 7.4 percent across North Carolina last year, to a record $17.1 billion, according to information released Tuesday by the state Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development.

Wake County was one of six counties to register double-digit growth in visitor spending, with a 10.7 percent increase to almost $1.5 billion. Nash County saw the largest jump statewide at 12.7 percent, to $218 million.

All Triangle-area counties saw increased tourism spending, except for Lee County, which registered a 0.4 percent decrease.

“Our very important state tourism industry continues to grow, even as the national economy is struggling,” Gov. Mike Easley said in a statement. “Tourism is a key economic driver, particularly for several of our rural and urban counties, and plays a critical role in adding new jobs to our economy and supports our other economic development efforts.”

Domestic travelers' expenditures reached $16.5 billion, up 7.2 percent from 2006, while international travelers’ expenditures increased to $607 million, a 13.2 percent jump from the previous year.

Visitor expenditures created 198,900 jobs and nearly $4.2 billion in payroll income statewide last year. Employment increased 2.2 percent, and payroll jumped 4.3 percent from 2006.

Visitor spending also generated close to $2.7 billion in tax revenue for federal, state and local governments, up 4.6 percent from 2006.

The figures come from an annual study commissioned by the Division of Tourism and conducted by the Travel Industry Association. The study uses sales and tax revenue data plus employment figures to determine the overall impact of visitor spending in North Carolina.