Visitors spending more in NC

Posted March 14, 2011 12:51 p.m. EDT

— Visitors to North Carolina spent a record $17 billion last year, up 9 percent from 2009, state officials said Monday.

The previous record for visitor spending was $16.8 billion in 2008.

About 36.8 million people visited North Carolina last year, a 2.5 percent increase from 2009. The sixth-most-visited state in the nation, North Carolina gained nearly 2,000 tourism jobs in 2010, while state tax revenues from visitor spending increased 12.6 percent, officials said.

“North Carolina’s natural and cultural treasures bring people and dollars into our state,” Gov. Beverly Perdue said during remarks at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Hospitality in Asheville. “It’s a consistently growing part of our economy. Visitors and vacationers spend money that helps local economies thrive and creates jobs here in North Carolina, which is my No. 1 priority.”

More than 40,000 businesses in North Carolina directly provide products and services to travelers, employing about 185,500 people.

State tax revenue totaled more than $947 million and local tax revenues were $546 million as a direct result of visitor spending, according to a study by the U.S. Travel Association.

“We are thrilled to have record-setting visitor spending for tourism in 2010,” Lynn Minges, assistant secretary for tourism, marketing and global branding for the North Carolina Department of Commerce, said in a statement. “The fact that tourism helped create jobs and grow North Carolina’s economy in these tough economic times is a testament to both the strength of our tourism product and to the collaborative partnership of the North Carolina travel industry.”