Tourism revenues rise $20 million

Fueled by new hotels and increased demand for rooms, Cabarrus County tourism revenues leapt by $20 million in 2010, according to recently released figures from the N.C. Division of Tourism.

From 2009 to 2010, the county's total hotel room supply grew by 32 percent with several hotel properties opening, said Donna Carpenter, president and chief executive officer of the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The hotels included Great Wolf Lodge, Residence Inn by Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn and Country Inn and Suites

"This development shows the growth and sustainability of the destination not only from a leisure standpoint, but from a meetings and conventions perspective as well," Carpenter said.

The county saw total room demand up 17 percent last year, she said.

Terry Crawford, general manager of Embassy Suites Charlotte-Concord, said the hotel rebounded in 2010 from the economic downturn of the previous year, with association and corporate group bookings up 5 percent.

"Tourism is a vital industry to Cabarrus County, and these figures directly illustrate that importance in dollars and cents," Carpenter said in announcing the gains.

"In 2010, an unquestionably difficult year for the economy, the economic impact from tourism in Cabarrus County increased," she said. "As an organization, we will leverage this momentum with our marketing plans and partnership activities in the upcoming year."

Domestic tourism in Cabarrus County generated nearly $313 million in 2010, a 6.88-percent increase from 2009, according to a study prepared for the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development by the U.S. Travel Association.

Tourism revenues have increased every year since 1991, when tourism generated about $75 million in the county, according to the study.

About 3,700 jobs in Cabarrus are in travel and tourism, which generated a nearly $69 million overall payroll in 2010, the study shows.

State and local tax revenues from travel to Cabarrus County amounted to nearly $25 million, or a $365 tax savings to each household in the county, according to the study, "The Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties."

In 2010, Cabarrus ranked 12th in travel impact among North Carolina's 100 counties, the study shows.