Impact of tourism in NC may be greater than previously measured - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Impact of tourism in NC may be greater than previously measured

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NC Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker speaks at The Great Wolf Lodge in Concord on Wednesday. (David Whisenant/WBTV) NC Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker speaks at The Great Wolf Lodge in Concord on Wednesday. (David Whisenant/WBTV)
CONCORD, NC (WBTV) -

Are you noticing a lot of new faces in the area this week? 

You may not know it, but we are right in the middle of Tourism Week in North Carolina, and it's not just about the events at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Wednesday morning Sharon Allred Decker, Secretary of Commerce for North Carolina, will talk about the impact of tourism on the state.  Newly released data is showing that the impact is greater than was previously measured.

A proclamation by Governor Pat McCrory announced today that the North Carolina tourism industry generated record visitor spending in 2013.

The $20.2 billion in domestic visitor spending represents a 4.1 percent increase over 2012.

"The growth of our tourism industry gives us a lot to celebrate," Governor McCrory said. "We attracted 52.5 million travelers from across the United States last year because of our great tourist destinations. The money they spent while visiting our mountains, beaches, cities and places in between directly supported nearly 200,000 jobs and more than 40,000 businesses. We can be proud that the quality of North Carolina's travel experiences makes us the sixth most visited state in the nation."

Governor McCrory, who proclaimed May 3-11, 2014, as Tourism Week in North Carolina, will discuss the new figures from the U.S. Travel Association at a news conference on Thursday, May 8 at the Outer Banks.

The findings from the annual study were presented by Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker at the hotel and waterpark Great Wolf Lodge.

Decker came to the press conference riding on the side of a stock car emblazoned with the "Where Racing Lives" logo representing Concord and Cabarrus County.

Decker pointed out various attractions along Exit 49 off Interstate 85, including Charlotte Motor Speedway and the state's biggest tourist draw, the Concord Mills Mall.

Secretary Susan Kluttz will deliver the news and present the proclamation at the Civil War farmhouse Bennett Place in Durham today as well.

Kluttz is the former Salisbury Mayor and was a supporter of tourism in Salisbury.  The October Tour, Autumn Jubilee, and North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer draw big crowds to Rowan County.

Preliminary results from the study show that direct tourism employment grew 2.1 percent and that state tax receipts as a result of visitor spending rose 4 percent to top $1 billion. Visitors spent more than $55 million per day in North Carolina last year and contributed more than $4.4 million per day in state and local tax revenues as a result of that spending. 

"Everyone in North Carolina can feel the benefits of the tourism industry's success," Secretary Decker said. "Tourism means jobs in all of the state's 100 counties. In addition, each North Carolina household saves $435 annually in state and local taxes as a result of taxes generated by visitor expenditures."

As the leader of the agency that oversees 27 historic sites, seven history museums, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the North Carolina Symphony and other cultural institutions, Secretary Kluttz joined the celebration of tourism as an industry vital to the state's economic stability and growth.

"Cultural tourism showcases the uniquely Carolina places, faces, history and art and is an integral part of tourism," Secretary Kluttz said. "History, the arts and culture provide numerous benefits to our state's economy by stimulating job creation, attracting investments and motivating visitors. We are proud to partner with Governor McCrory and the Department of Commerce in welcoming visitors from across the state and from around the world."

Tourism Week in North Carolina is part of National Travel & Tourism Week, which also runs May 3-11. The state's nine Welcome Centers will host activities throughout the week.

Tourism Facts

  • Domestic travelers spent a record $20.2 billion in 2013, up from $19.4 billion in 2012. That's an increase of 4.1 percent.
  • In 2013, total visitor volume was 52.5 million, up nearly 16 percent from 2012. North Carolina is the sixth most visited state for domestic travel.
  • North Carolina's domestic market share increased from 4 percent to 4.3 percent.
  • For every $1 invested by the Division of Tourism in paid media advertising, North Carolina receives $191 in new visitor spending, $10.31 in new state taxes and $6.25 in new local taxes.  This is nearly a 17-to-1 return on investment of tax dollars.
  • For every $1 invested by the Division of Tourism is paid media advertising, one trip is generated to the state.  
  • More than 40,000 businesses in North Carolina directly provide products and services to travelers, with travelers directly contributing more than 25 percent to their total products and services.
  • Visitors to North Carolina generated more than $3 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2013.
  • State tax receipts as a result of visitor spending passed the $1 billion mark in 2013. The figure represents 4 percent in growth over 2012's $970 million.
  • Local tax receipts from visitor spending grew 3.1 percent to $597.3 million.
  • Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased nearly 2.1 percent, to 197,700. The majority of the growth was in lodging, transportation, food service and retail employment.
  • Direct tourism payroll increased 3.8 percent to $4.6 billion.
  • Visitors spend more than $55 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds more than $4.4 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $2.8 million in state taxes and $1.6 million in local taxes).
  • Each North Carolina household saves $435 in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state.

A prime example of the growth of tourism in the state has to be Jim and Sallie Hooker of Mansfield, Ohio.

They spent seven months a year living in a motor home in the Tom Johnson Camping Center near Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Hookers have season tickets to every racing event at all three tracks on the speedway complex.

"We're almost North Carolina residents, " Sallie told WBTV.  "The attractions in the area brought us here originally and to that extent we've been tourists but we've learned to love the area, love the people."

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