Special for the News Herald
Tourism is alive and well in Burke County and the state of North Carolina, according to new data released last week.
Domestic and international visitors to and within Burke County spent $121.27 million in 2021, an increase of 46.9% from 2020. The data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the North Carolina Economic Development Partnership.
“Burke County’s tourism economy continues to grow exponentially and outpaces all counties that border Burke,” said Ed Phillips, CEO of the Burke County Tourism Development Authority. “Public lands, parks and other outdoor attractions make Burke an attractive destination in western North Carolina. Business travel related to industrial development and other corporate initiatives also plays a significant role in tourism in Burke County.
Tourism impact highlights for 2021 include:
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- The travel and tourism industry directly employs over 800 people in Burke County.
- The total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Burke was $27.5 million.
- State tax revenue generated at Burke totaled $5.3 million through state sales and excise taxes and personal and corporate income taxes. Approximately $4.2 million in local taxes was generated from business sales and property tax revenues generated and supported by travel.
These statistics come from “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2021,” accessible at partners.visitnc.com/economic-impact-studies. The study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by Tourism Economics in conjunction with the US Travel Association.
Statewide, visitor spending in 2021 rebounded 44.9% to $28.9 billion. Following devastating 2020 pandemic-related losses, the total fell just short of the record $29.22 billion spent in 2019. Direct tourism employment rose 10.5% to 197 500.
“These discoveries are something everyone in North Carolina can celebrate,” said Wit Tuttell, director of Visit NC. “They are a testament to the resilience of our businesses and residents, and the enduring appeal of destinations that include everything a traveler could want. The economic well-being of the state and all of its communities increases with the delights travelers find in the natural beauty of our public spaces, our culinary traditions and innovations, our remarkable cities, and our vibrant cities. North Carolina can claim it all.
Statewide highlights include:
- Total spending by domestic and international visitors to North Carolina reached $28.9 billion in 2021. This amount represents a 44.9% increase over spending in 2020. This figure is 1% below the record of $29.22 billion spent in 2019.
- Domestic travelers spent a record $28.6 billion in 2021. Spending rose 45.2% from $19.7 billion in 2020.
- International travelers spent $337 million in 2021, up 25.6% from the previous year.
- Visitors to North Carolina generated $3.9 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2021. The total represents a 29% increase from 2020.
- State tax revenue from visitor spending increased 34% to nearly $1.2 billion in 2021.
- Local tax revenue increased 26% to $1.1 billion.
- Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased 10.5% to 197,500.
- Direct tourism payroll rose 18.9% to $7.7 billion.
- Visitors spent more than $79 million daily in North Carolina. These expenditures added $6.4 million a day to state and local tax revenue (about $3.3 million in state taxes and $3.1 million in local taxes).
- Each North Carolina household saved an average of $580 in state and local taxes as a direct result of in-state visitor spending. Savings per capita averaged $222.
- North Carolina welcomed nearly 45 million visitors in 2021.