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home : state news : e-state news June 20, 2018

5/29/2018 8:18:00 AM
NC Tourism Largely Home-Grown

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

There was the day when North Carolina beaches moaned that they were just as attractive as the ones in South Carolina, but when they talked about going to the beach, most North Carolinians were talking about Myrtle Beach in the Palmetto state.  

Some of that hasn't changed, but North Carolina tourism keeps growing.  There are lots of places to visit in North Carolina.  Not only does the state have beaches that some consider as good or better than those of our southern neighbor, there are also the Outer Banks, another major coastal attraction.  Then there are the mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Between those, there are other tourist attractions including major sports teams like the Carolina Panthers, the Charlotte Hornets and the Carolina Hurricanes.  There's Carowinds amusement park, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Motor Speedway.  

North Carolina tourism brought in almost $24 billion in 2017 and provided jobs for over 225,000 people.  

Even so, our tourism is largely home-grown.  Figures released by the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina show that almost 39% of those visiting overnight in North Carolina are actually from somewhere else in the state.  

The top states of origin of overnight visitors to North Carolina were in-state residents (38.9 percent), Virginia (8.4 percent), South Carolina (7.2 percent), Georgia (6.3 percent), Florida (5.3 percent), New York (3.9 percent), Tennessee (3.3 percent), Ohio (2.9 percent), Maryland (2.7 percent) and Pennsylvania (2.6 percent).

All of our neighboring states top North Carolina as a tourism state according to Business Insider. As one might expect, California ranks #1 followed by Florida.  Gambling pays off for Nevada at #3.  Texas is #4 and New York #5.  Then come two neighboring states: Virginia at #6 and South Carolina at #7.  After Arizona at #8 come Georgia at #9, Hawaii at #10 and Tennessee at #11.  North Carolina is ranked #20.

Figures on county-by-county tourism dollars for 2017 won't be released until August, but Lincoln County's tourism dollars run well behind those of other neighboring counties.  Mecklenburg gets the most tourism dollars of any county in the state.  Events like the American Legion World Series help Cleveland County to attract tourism bucks.  Catawba County gets many overnight visitors who are actually on their way to some other place.  Gaston County gets the over-spill from Charlotte events.  Still, tourism spending and the taxes collected are estimated to save Lincoln County taxpayers about $56 a year if they had to pay taxes themselves for the same projects funded by taxes (sales tax, hotel tax, etc.) collected from tourists.

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