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Tourism revenue growing in Rowan County

Tourists seem to be traveling to Rowan County in increasing numbers.
A report released last week by the N.C. Department of Commerce shows a steady increase in the amount of revenue generated in the local tourism industry. The most recent numbers are also the largest in the county’s history. Since 2010, Rowan County has seen about a 5 percent yearly increase in revenues.
Overall, the report, which dates back to 1991, shows four decreases — 1992, 2001, 2004 and 2008.
Convention and Visitors Bureau director James Meacham partially attributed the increase to continued investment and improvement in existing attractions.
Meacham said he sees the report as a yearly check-up.
“It means we are growing at a good pace, and it’s really our barometer,” Meacham said about the tourism report. “And, our best barometer is growth.”
In 2013, the most recent year on the report, tourism revenues equaled $145.28 million. The revenues include all spending related to tourism, such as hotel rooms and restaurants. Tax revenue in 2013 represented a small fraction of the total number at $12.18 million.
The travel revenue represents a 5.48 percent increase over 2012.
Across North Carolina, Rowan County was ranked 30 in travel impact among the 100 counties.
The report grouped Rowan into the Charlotte Regional Partnership. Among the included counties, Rowan ranked fifth, behind Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Catawba and Gaston counties, respectively.
Meacham said growth rates are more important to consider than rankings because of demographic differences among counties. He said Rowan was the eighth-fastest growing county in the state.
“We really try to look at counties our size that are not vacation destinations, like the beach,” he said.
Rowan’s growth is part of a larger state trend, as the entire North Carolina tourism economy witnessed growth in 2013. The state’s tourism industry grew at a slightly lesser rate than Rowan County, at 4.1 percent.
If the growth rate continues, Meacham said the Convention and Visitors Bureau would shortly reach its goal of $250 million.
“We are right on track with our goals and objectives,” he said. “We don’t want to see a sudden spike or grow too fast. We want to see tourism grow as an overall amplification of our economy.”
The Convention and Visitors Bureau is funded through city and county occupancy taxes.

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