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.
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.