TIA study probes tourism's economic impact on North Carolina

WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Tourism pumped $11.9 billion into North Carolina's coffers last year, according to a study of the industry's impact in the state's 100 counties.

The study, conducted by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), showed that travel spending in North Carolina was up 5.7% last year, compared with 1998.

By comparison, the average growth in tourism spending nationwide last year was 5.1%, compared with the previous year, TIA said.

"Tourism is a strong economic development engine for North Carolina," said Rick Carlisle, the state's secretary of commerce.

"And the positive economic impact does not stop with vacationers. We've found that these same people often bring businesses to the state and become new residents. So the impressions that we make with travelers often widen into other development areas," Carlisle said.

The study used tax revenue data to determine the overall economic impact of travel from both domestic and international sources.

Other highlights of the study include:

  • International travelers to North Carolina spent $472.4 million last year.
  • In 1999, the travel industry generated $671 million in total state tax revenue through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income.
  • Local governments within North Carolina received $315.5 million in sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.
  • Spending on lodging in North Carolina increased 7.6% in 1999, the greatest growth among the industry sectors studied by TIA.
  • Public transportation expenditures increased 1.6%; auto transportation, 5.8%; food service, 7.2%, and entertainment and recreation, 2.9%.
  • Domestic and international traveler spending in North Carolina generated more than 198,000 jobs within the state, including both full-time and seasonal positions.
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