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Visitor spending up in much of N.C.; slight decrease in Rowan

Staff report
RALEIGH ń Gov. Bev Perdue announced today that 62 of the state’s 100 counties saw increases in visitor spending in 2008, including 16 counties that had increases of more than 5 percent.
Data from the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development showed domestic visitors to and within North Carolina spent a record $16.9 billion in 2008, an increase of 2.1 percent from 2007.
Visitor expenditures directly generated 190,500 jobs and nearly $4.2 billion in payroll income within North Carolina in 2008. Payroll increased 3.9 percent from 2007. Visitor spending in the state also directly generated close to $2.7 billion in tax revenue for federal, state and local governments in 2008, up 3.6 percent from 2007.
Rowan County’s piece of the pie actually shrank by 1.7 percent, with visitor spending at $116 million.
In contrast, Cabarrus County benefitted from a 4.9 percent increase in visitor spending, with a total of more than $288 million.
Iredell County saw a decrease, as well, of 1.4 percent; Stanly dropped by 1.6 percent.
Davie went up 2.2 percent; Davidson, .9 percent.
“We know that current economic conditions are affecting businesses all across the state, including those in the tourism industry,” Perdue said. “But this continued economic growth, and especially growth in tax revenues, is encouraging.”
The visitor spending figures are the results of an annual study commissioned by the Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development and conducted by the U.S. Travel Association. The study uses sales and tax revenue data plus employment figures to determine the overall impact of visitor spending in North Carolina. Highlights include:
– Mecklenburg County received more than $3.6 billion in domestic travelers’ expenditures to lead all 100 of North Carolina’s counties. Wake County ranked second with more than $1.5 billion, followed by Guilford County with close to $1.1 billion.
– Thirty-five of North Carolina’s 100 counties, including Rowan, each received more than $100 million in domestic travelers’ expenditures in 2008.
– Thirty-three counties in North Carolina, including Rowan, had 1,000 or more jobs directly supported by domestic travelers during 2008.
– Onslow County showed the largest percentage increase in visitor spending with an 8.3 percent increase. Of the state’s large tourism destinations, Forsyth County showed the greatest increase, gaining 5.9 percent.

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