Burke Tourism Spending Hits New Record in 2021 | Government and Politics

Special to 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 Burke County and within the county spent $121.27 million in 2021, a 46.9 percent increase from 2020. The data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the North Carolina Economic Development Association.

“The tourism economy in Burke County continues to grow exponentially and outpaces all of the 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 play an important role in tourism in Burke County.”

Tourism impact highlights for 2021 include:

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  • The travel and tourism industry directly employs more than 800 people in Burke County.
  • The total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Burke was $27.5 million.
  • State tax revenue generated in Burke totaled $5.3 million through state sales and excise taxes, and personal and corporate income taxes. About $4.2 million in local taxes was generated from sales and property tax revenues from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.

These statistics are from the “Economic Impact of Travel to North Carolina Counties 2021,” which can be accessed at partners.visitnc.com/economic-impact-studies. The study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by Tourism Economics in partnership with the US Travel Association.

Statewide, visitor spending in 2021 rebounded 44.9% to $28.9 billion. After devastating pandemic-related losses in 2020, the total fell short of the record $29.22 billion spent in 2019. Direct employment in tourism rose 10.5% to 197,500.

“These findings 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 our residents, and to 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 pleasures travelers find in the natural beauty of our public spaces, our culinary traditions and innovation, our remarkable towns and our vibrant cities. North Carolina can claim it all.”

Statewide highlights include:

  • Total domestic and international visitor spending in North Carolina reached $28.9 billion in 2021. This represents a 44.9% increase over 2020 spending. The figure falls 1% below the record for $29.22 billion spent in 2019.
  • Domestic travelers spent a record $28.6 billion in 2021. Spending was up 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 over 2020.
  • State tax revenue from visitor spending increased 34% to nearly $1.2 billion by 2021.
  • Local tax revenue grew 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 a day in North Carolina. This spending added $6.4 million per day to state and local tax revenues (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 visitor spending in the state. Savings per capita averaged $222.
  • North Carolina welcomed nearly 45 million visitors in 2021.

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