North Carolina tourism spending hits new record of $33.3 billion

A couple relaxing on a Crystal Coast beach.
A couple relaxing on a Crystal Coast beach.(The Crystal Coast Facebook page)
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 10:57 AM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - North Carolina has set a new record for the amount of money brought into the state from tourism.

Tourism officials said last year $33.3 billion was spent by people visiting the state.

The announcement coincides with this week, May 7-13, being National Travel and Tourism Week.

This figure includes money spent by locals and visitors. The highest before had been $29.22 billion in 2019.

Tourism suffered a 26% employment and travel loss in 2020, but this has been reversed with a boom in travel across the state, according to tourism leaders.

“Tourism is a vital economic force in our state supporting thousands of small businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “We can take pride that visitors see North Carolina as a diverse, inclusive and welcoming place and we all need to work to keep it that way.”

The Department of Commerce provided the following tourism facts:

  • Total spending by domestic and international visitors in North Carolina reached $33.3 billion in 2022. That sum represents a 15.2 percent increase over 2021 expenditures. The figure falls 14 percent above the record $29.22 billion spent in 2019.
  • Domestic travelers spent a record $32.4 billion in 2022. Spending was up 13.4 percent from $28.6 billion in 2021.
  • International travelers spent $910 million in 2022, up 170 percent from the previous year.
  • Visitors to North Carolina generated $4.2 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2022. The total represents a 7.9 percent increase from 2020.
  • State tax receipts from visitor spending rose 6.5 percent to nearly $1.3 billion in 2022.
  • Local tax receipts grew 3.5 percent to nearly $1.2 billion.
  • Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased by 9.8 percent to 216,900.
  • Direct tourism payroll increased 13.5 percent to $8.7 billion.
  • Visitors spend more than $91 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds $6.7 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $3.5 million in state taxes and $3.2 million in local taxes).
  • Each North Carolina household saved $512 on average in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state. Savings per capita averaged $230.
  • North Carolina hosted approximately 43 million visitors in 2022.