Meck County leads state in visitor spending, with 31% gain

Aug. 22. Mecklenburg County visitor spending rose 31 percent last year, reaching $5.3 billion, the largest among all 100 North Carolina counties.

Indeed, visitor spending in 2022 was a record $33.3 billion according to county-level data released today by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. North Carolina’s urban counties registered the largest gains in 2022 visitor spending, following a few years of rural counties leading visitor spending post-pandemic.

Key findings

—Forty-five of the state’s 100 counties had double-digit increases in visitor spending.

—Wake County ranked second with $3.0 billion (up 26 percent), followed by Buncombe ($2.9 billion, up 9 percent) and Dare ($2.0 billion, up 8 percent),

—Mecklenburg had the largest number of direct tourism employees (33,627), an increase of 18 percent from 2021. One other county had more than 20,000 direct tourism employees: Wake (24,591, up 15 percent).

Statewide, travel rose 15.2 percent in 2022 to set a record in visitor spending. That increase followed a 2021 turnaround from the pandemic’s 2020 peak, which brought a drop of 32 percent in visitor spending.


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