Tourism spending jumps $22.9B


Christina Rehklau


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tourists spent more — a lot more — in North Carolina in 2016, including in the Albemarle region.

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina announced recently that visitor spending in 2016 rose a record $22.9 billion, an increase of 4.4 percent from 2015. Of the state’s 100 counties, 97 saw increased tourism spending, the partnership said.

The visitor spending data were obtained by research commissioned by Visit North Carolina and conducted by the U.S. Travel Association. The figures reflect sales and tax revenue data, employment figures and other economic data and includes dollars spent on food, lodging, retail items, recreation and transportation. 

All area counties saw tourism spending jump in 2016, with both Pequimans and Chowan seeing the largest increases by percentage, 6 percent. Currituck, meanwhile, saw a 4.94 percent increase; Pasquotank reported a 4.77 percent jump; Dare saw an increase of 4.47 percent; and Camden saw a 1.75 percent increase. Gates County saw an increase of two-tenths of a percent. 

As far as total visitor spending, Dare of course reported the largest amount: nearly $1.1 billion, tying it for third-best in the state with Guilford and Buncombe counties behind Mecklenburg County’s $5 billion and Wake County’s $2 billion. 

Currituck reported the next highest total: $154.18 million. Coming in third was Pasquotank, which reported $62.3 million in tourism spending. Chowan was fourth with $21.27 million; Perquimans fifth with $10.39 million; Gates sixth with $6.22 million; and Camden seventh with $2.01 million.

"We finally broke the $60 million level. We came in at $62.3 million," Elizabeth City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Christina Rehklau told the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Economic Development Commission on Wednesday.

According to state Department of Commerce data, tourism generated a payroll of $9.78 million in Pasquotank, state tax receipts of $3.48 million and local tax receipts of $1.41 million. Those taxes translated into a savings of $122 for each Pasquotank taxpayer for 2016.

Tourism revenues in Pasquotank have slowly increased since the early 1990s, but underwent a setback following the Great Recession in 2008. Indeed, tourism spending in Pasquotank in 2009 was slightly more than $47 million, a 7.7 decrease from 2008.

The revenues rebounded by 7.76 percent to $50.67 million in 2010, beginning another upward trend.

The only stagnant point was in 2013, when tourism spending revenues were $55.04 million, reflecting only sixth-tenths of a percent increase from 2012.

Currituck Travel and Tourism Director Tameron Kugler was also happy with Currituck’s growth in tourism spending in 2016. 

“All of us in the tourism department are very pleased with tourism growth in 2016 and expect even better numbers for 2017,” Kugler said.