Wednesday, May 13, 2009

'U.S. tourists' spent almost $17 billion in N.C.

The headline from makes it sound like North Carolina is a foreign country (no jokes, please). But the fact remains: Americans spent a lot of jack in the Old North State last year on tourism: a record $16.9 billion.

That's billion, with a 'B.'

The visitor spending topped the $16.5 billion figure from 2007, which was the previous record, and positions the state to top the $17.1 billion in total visitor spending – domestic and foreign tourists – set in 2007.

"The tourism industry is a critical economic engine for North Carolina, and this continued growth in revenues is a positive sign,” Gov. Beverly Perdue said in a statement.

The figures are the preliminary results of an annual study conducted by the U.S. Travel Association for the state Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development. The study uses sales and tax revenue data and employment figures to determine the overall impact of visitor spending in North Carolina.

State tax revenues from visitors increased 3.5 percent from 2007, to $843.2 million. Local tax revenues also increased, gaining 2.5 percent to $542.3 million.

During the last five years, visitor spending has increased 27.3 percent, while state and local tax revenue is up 20.7 percent, according to the annual study.

North Carolina also moved from the seventh-most-visited state in 2007 to the sixth-most-visited last year, a study by TNS TravelsAmerica found.

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