Tourism: NC’s quiet economic engine

Grandfather Mountain | Visit NC

May 22. North Carolina’s tourism industry reached $35.6 billion, up more than $2 billion from the previous record of $33.3 billion in 2022.

With nearly 43 million visitors from across the nation, North Carolina ranks No. 5 behind California, Florida, Texas and New York in domestic visitation.

North Carolina also saw gains in the international market. With nearly 700,000 international travelers, spending rose 9.5 percent to $997 million.

The state’s tourism-supported workforce increased 4.8 percent to 227,200 jobs in 2023. Tourism payroll increased 6.6 percent to $9.3 billion. Also, as a result of visitor spending, state and local governments saw rebounds in tax revenues to nearly $2.6 billion.

Tourism means jobs for more than 50,000 small businesses.

North Carolina tourism facts:

—Total spending by domestic and international visitors in North Carolina reached $35.6 billion in 2023. That sum represents a 6.9 percent increase over 2022 expenditures.

—Domestic travelers spent a record $34.6 billion in 2023. Spending was up 6.8 percent from $32.4 billion in 2022.

—International travelers spent $997 million in 2023, up 9.5 percent from the previous year.

—Visitors to North Carolina generated nearly $4.5 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2023. The total represents a 5.8 percent increase from 2022.

—State tax receipts from visitor spending rose 5.6 percent to $1.3 billion in 2023.

—Local tax receipts grew 5.4 percent to $1.2 billion.

—Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased 4.8 percent to 227,200.

—Direct tourism payroll increased 6.6 percent to nearly $9.3 billion.

—Visitors spend more than $97 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds $7.1 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $3.7 million in state taxes and $3.4 million in local taxes).

—Each North Carolina household saved $518 on average in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state. Savings per capita averaged $239.

Biltmore / Photo: Visit NC

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville ranks No. 2 on a nationwide list of the spots that are most attractive to tourists, according to results published last month. To create the list, the travel blog ParkSleepFly said it examined reviews that visitors left on the website Tripadvisor.


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