Visitors to North Carolina spent a record $21.9 billion last year, and Mecklenburg County received the largest portion of that total, according to a report released Thursday.
Figures issued by Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration show Mecklenburg County received $5 billion in spending from domestic travelers, ahead of second-place Wake County at $2.1 billion. Mecklenburg, the state’s most populous county, also recorded the most direct tourism employment (49,870 employees) and the largest tourism payroll ($1.7 billion).
Visitor spending statewide rose nearly 3 percent last year. Spending increased in 91 of the state’s 100 counties, according to data from Visit North Carolina, a unit of the public-private Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
In a statement, McCrory called tourism a “major force” in the state’s economy, saying the industry is fueling job growth and contributing “substantial” sums to North Carolina’s budget and economies across the state.
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Statewide, visitor spending last year directly supported 211,487 jobs and generated nearly $5.3 billion in payroll income, the new figures show. State tax receipts topped $1.1 billion, while local tax revenues totaled more than $660 million.
The numbers come from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina and conducted by the U.S. Travel Association.