Tourism spending in Berk sets new record in 2021 | Government and Politics

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Tourism is alive and well in Burke County and the state of North Carolina, according to new data released last week.

Domestic and international visitors to and from Burke County spent $121.27 million in 2021, a 46.9% increase over 2020. The data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of North Carolina’s Economic Development Partnership.

“Burke County’s tourism economy continues to grow exponentially and outpaces all counties that border Burke,” said Ed Phillips, CEO of the Burke County Tourism Development Authority. “Public lands, parks and other outdoor attractions make Burke an attractive destination in western North Carolina. Business travel associated with industrial development and other corporate initiatives also plays an important role in Burke County tourism.

Tourism impact highlights for 2021 include:

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  • The travel and tourism industry directly employs more than 800 people in Burke County.
  • The total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Burke was $27.5 million.
  • State tax revenue generated in Burke totaled $5.3 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. About $4.2 million in local taxes was generated from sales and property tax revenues from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.

These statistics come from the “Economic Impact of Travel in North Carolina Counties 2021,” which can be accessed at The study was prepared by Tourism Economics in collaboration with the US Travel Association for North Carolina travel.

Statewide, visitor spending grew 44.9% to $28.9 billion in 2021. After 2020’s devastating pandemic-related losses, total spending in 2019 fell just short of the record $29.22 billion. Direct tourism employment increased 10.5% to 197,500.

“These findings are something everyone in North Carolina can celebrate,” said Visit NC Director Witt Tutel. “They are a testament to the resilience of our businesses and our residents, and to the enduring appeal of destinations that include everything a traveler could want. The economic well-being of the state and all its communities, the natural beauty of our public spaces, our culinary traditions and innovation, our remarkable cities and our vibrant cities. The fun that travelers find grows with it.North Carolina can claim it all.

Statewide highlights include:

  • Total spending by domestic and international visitors to North Carolina will reach $28.9 billion in 2021. That sum is a 44.9% increase over 2020 spending. This number is 1% less than the record $29.22 billion spent in 2019.
  • Domestic travelers will spend a record $28.6 billion in 2021. Spending increased 45.2% compared to $19.7 billion in 2020.
  • International travelers spent $337 million in 2021, up 25.6% from the previous year.
  • Visitors to North Carolina generated $3.9 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2021. The total represents a 29% increase from 2020.
  • State tax receipts from visitor spending are projected to grow 34% to nearly $1.2 billion in 2021.
  • Local tax receipts rose 26% to $1.1 billion.
  • Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased 10.5% to 197,500.
  • Direct tourism payroll increased 18.9% to $7.7 billion.
  • Visitors spent more than $79 million per day in North Carolina. That spending added $6.4 million per day in state and local tax revenue (about $3.3 million in state taxes and $3.1 million in local taxes).
  • Each North Carolina household saved an average of $580 in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state. Savings average $222 per person.
  • North Carolina hosted nearly 45 million visitors in 2021.

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