Andrew Schmidt

The travel and tourism industry is one of the most mid-understood industries across our nation despite its huge contribution to the national economy.

The United States Travel Association reported that $1.1 trillion was spent by travelers to the U.S. in 2018, resulting in a $2.5 trillion output into the economies across our country. The bottom line for Americans is that the influx of tourism spending reduced each household tax burden by $1,340 dollars.

What is equally important is that the tourism industry creates jobs. Data from the USTA shows that 15.7 million people within our country’s borders can attribute the existence of their jobs existence to the travel and tourism Industry.

The Greenville-Pitt County Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official marketing organization that exists to promote travel and create economic development through tourism in Greenville and Pitt County. Our office aggressively markets to several different hospitality segments including meeting, event, and reunion planners, sports tournament organizers and leisure travelers. Our goal is to make Greenville and Pitt County a preferred destination across North Carolina — and our efforts are paying off.

Although 2018 numbers are not available yet, travelers visiting Greenville-Pitt County in 2017 generated over $246.5 million in direct spending to help boost our local economy. Not only did Pitt County rank 20th in expenditures among North Carolina’s 100 counties, our destination enjoyed the fourth highest increase in expenditures from year-to year in the state.

In addition, tourism expenditures generated $5.53 million dollars in local tax revenue representing a tax savings of $104.28 to each county resident. In Pitt County, 2,270 jobs are directly related to travel and tourism.

Most of our residents are not aware that the Greenville-Pitt County Convention & Visitors Bureau is not funded by local tax dollars. The CVB receives its funding from the local hotel/motel occupancy tax enacted by state legislation.

When an out-of-town guest stays in one of our hotels or Airbnbs, they pay the room rate, state sales tax and a 6 percent occupancy tax. The CVB then receives part of that occupancy tax (approximately 2 percent of the 6 percent) to promote travel and tourism to Greenville and Pitt County.

For every $1 dollar that the CVB spends in marketing Greenville-Pitt County, $15 dollars is returned to the community in the form of economic impact. This equates to a 100 percent return on investment for those who live here.

Greenville and Pitt County residents should support the efforts of the Greenville-Pitt Convention & Visitors Bureau’s to increase and enhance tourism to our destination. Each one of us can make a difference by welcoming our visitors, thanking them for visiting with us, sharing your favorite aspects of our community, and acknowledging the positive effect they have on our business community.

We ask that you help market our destination as well. Remember that more visitors means a healthier economy and lower taxes. That should be something we can all get behind.

Andrew Schmidt is executive director of the Greenville-Pitt County Convention and Visitors Bureau.