Visitor spending in the Charlotte region hit record highs in 2019, once again surpassing all other destinations in the Carolinas.
The region hosted 29.6 million visitors, an increase of 400,000 visitors from 2018, according to research firm Longwoods International.
“The Charlotte region’s 10-year growth, leading the state in visitor spending, is significant,” CEO Tom Murray said. “Our $7.8 billion visitor economy fuels critical areas such as building transportation assets, raising the destination profile, attracting strategic events and enhancing quality of life.”
Visitor spending in the Charlotte Metropolitan Statistical Area, which represents 10 counties in the Carolinas, increased by 5.2% and totaled $7.78 billion.
Mecklenburg County led all of North Carolina’s 100 counties in domestic travelers’ expenditures at nearly $6 billion, an increase of 5.6% over 2018. Mecklenburg County represents 26.9% of all domestic travelers’ expenditures in the state.
Union County, which ranked fifth among the Charlotte MSA, generated $152 million in visitor spending.
State and local tax revenues generated from travel totaled $425.7 million in Mecklenburg and $11 million in Union. These figures represent an estimated annual tax savings of $383 for Mecklenburg residents and $46.11 for Union residents.
“Hospitality and leisure is the fourth largest industry in the region, providing more than 147,000 jobs, and visitor spending directly supports nearly half of those jobs,” Murray said. “Recovery of the tourism industry is critically important to support so many of our local businesses, get residents back to work and help rebuild the region’s economic strength.”
Beyond Charlotte, domestic visitors to North Carolina spent a record $26.75 billion in 2019 (an increase of 5.6% from 2018), directly supporting more than 236,000 jobs and $6.6 billion in payroll income across the state.
“The numbers confirm the strength of North Carolina’s tourism industry as an anchor of economic development,” said Wit Tuttell, director of Visit North Carolina. “As the No. 6 state in the country for overnight visitation, we can attribute our success to the natural beauty and authenticity that visitors experience, and to a passionate effort to inform and inspire travelers.”