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Rowan County tourism brings record level of visitor spending

SALISBURY — Tourism brought a record level of $174.79 million in visitor spending to Rowan County in 2017, up 4.67 percent year over year.

This marks nine straight years of visitor spending growth, with tourism expenditures having increased by more than 50 percent since 2008.

Visitor spending figures come from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce. The study is conducted by the U.S. Travel Association.

The study uses tax revenue data, employee figures, and other industry and economic data to determine the overall impact of visitor spending.

In Rowan County, the $174.79 million spent directly supported 1,450 jobs and generated $5.7 million in local tax revenue. This was up from $5.37 million in 2016, an increase of 6.1 percent.

Tourism job growth and wages were also at all-time highs in 2017, with tourism jobs increasing 3.3 percent and wages growing 9 percent to total $30.7 million in income for employees.

Among neighboring counties, Rowan remains the leader of the pack, though trends of growth can be seen statewide. Rowan is followed in growth by Mecklenburg’s 4.22 percent, Iredell’s 3.79 percent, Cabarrus’ 3.10 percent and Stanly’s 2.17 percent.

As a whole, North Carolina’s tourism economy increased 4.2 percent last year, reaching an all-time high of $23.98 billion statewide. This directly supported 225,700 jobs and generated more than $6 billion in payroll income across the state.

James Meacham, CEO of Rowan County’s Tourism Development Authority, said the authority is pleased to see healthy and sustained growth here.

“The continued growth speaks volumes of the effort and dedication put in by tourism-related businesses, organizations, their team members, and the Rowan County community embracing the traveling public,” Meacham said.

Travelers are drawn to Rowan County by local tourism attractions, businesses, events, cultural organizations and education institutions.

Large-scale events include in the county include the Little League Eastern Regional World Series Tournament, A Day Out With Thomas, and the Polar Express at the N.C. Transportation Museum.

Business travel to both the county and Charlotte region also supported the opening of a Holiday Inn Express in 2017 and a Hilton Home 2 hotel expected to open in 2019. Overnight visitors to the county rose 14.9 percent in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Through June, the local lodging sector is up 11.9 percent in revenue compared to the same period last year.

“The Tourism Authority is committed to continuing to supporting the local community and economy through tourism,” said Meacham. “In 2018, (it) remains focused on the mission of growing tourism in Rowan County.”

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