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Tourism spending sets records in 2017

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Events such as PirateFest, which in April brought large crowds with a performance at the Greenville Town Common by the Plain White Ts, contributed to record tourism revenues in Pitt County.

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The Daily Reflector

Friday, August 24, 2018

Pitt County saw the state’s fourth largest increase in visitor spending in 2017 thanks in part to an increase in the number of convention center events, athletic events, leisure activities and a building boom, officials said.

The N.C. Department of Commerce announced Thursday that tourism spending increased statewide, with Polk, Hyde, Henderson, Pitt and Buncombe counties seeing the most growth among the state’s 100 counties. Beaufort and Forsyth counties followed with Alamance, Bertie and Pamlico counties rounding out the top 10 in growth.

Hospitality spending by visitors to Pitt County and residents her totaled $246.72 million in 2017, an increase of 6.62 percent from $231.40 million 2016, according to the state and the Greenville-Pitt County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The county’s tourism industry also directly employed more than 2,270 people in 2017, an increase of 4.59 percent over 2016, and generated a payroll of $52.25 million, an increase of 11.07 percent over 2016.

“I am both excited and pleased at the rapid growth of economic impact generated by tourism dollars in Greenville and Pitt County,” said Andrew Schmidt, executive director of the Convention & Visitors Bureau. “These numbers validate our message that Greenville-Pitt County is an emerging destination that continues to attract more visitors to enjoy our growing hospitality infrastructure, meeting, and athletic facilities.”

Other highlights from 2017 revenue figures in Pitt County include: 

■ State tax revenue generated in Pitt County totaled $12.87 million — an increase of 5.8 percent over 2016 — through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income.

■ About $5.53 million — an increase of 8.12 percent over 2016 — in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.

■ Travel and tourism tax revenue generated helped save Pitt County taxpayers $104.28 per resident in 2017.

■ Pitt County ranks 20th out of North Carolina’s 100 counties in visitor expenditures in 2017.

The growth in revenues is due to several factors, including a building boom in the area that has construction workers in need of lodging and other accommodations, and the addition of new venues for dining and drinking.

Community leaders also have also worked to create new leisure and recreational opportunities such as the Pitt County Brew and Cue Trail, which has brought in more people for culinary travel, Schmidt said.

Established events such as the African American Jazz Series and festivals like PirateFest also are helping to draw people in from neighboring counties to spend money here, Schmidt said.

Also contributing to the revenue growth in an increase in the number of conventions on the Greenville Convention Center Campus, he said. “We had a record number of meetings and conventions for 2017. This can be attributed to the expansion and aesthetic upfit for the center in 2015.”

The area also saw an increase in the number of larger athletic tournaments and competitions, which draw teams and families from around the region. Schmidt said 2017 was the second full year at the bureau with a full-time sports tourism marketing person on staff and the position has helped attract bigger tournaments with more attendees than in the past.

Statewide, spending by domestic visitors jumped to a record of nearly $24 billion, with increases in all 100 counties, N.C. Secretary of Commerce Anthony M. Copeland announced Thursday.

Visitor spending reached nearly $5.4 billion in Mecklenburg, $2.3 billion in Wake, $1.4 billion in Guilford and $1.1 in Buncombe and Dare counties. Rounding out the top 10 counties for spending were Forsyth, Durham, New Hanover, Brunswick and Cumberland. The data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

Domestic visitors spent a record $23.99 billion statewide in 2017, an increase of 4.2 percent from 2016. State tax receipts as a result of visitor spending topped $1.2 billion in 2017, and local tax revenues directly resulting from visitor spending totaled $738.6 million. Visitor expenditures directly supported 225,700 jobs and generated more than $6.0 billion in payroll income across North Carolina.

“North Carolina is a welcoming state and destination for travelers from across the world, and tourism continues to help drive economic development statewide,” Copeland said. “Tourism creates jobs and increases state and local tax revenues, growing North Carolina’s economy across all 100 counties.”

Visit NC Executive Director Wit Tuttell added: “The continued growth in visitor spending is great for communities across our entire state. North Carolina’s continued position as the sixth most-visited state in the nation with more than 46 million visitors in 2017 reinforces its status as a premier tourism destination.”

Full tables are can be accessed at partners.visitnc.com/economic-impact-studies. For more information about the travel impact numbers, contact Visit North Carolina.

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