County surpasses $600M in visitor spending

In 2021, Moore County witnessed an unprecedented $673 million in economic impact from visitor spending, a 70 percent increase from the previous year. That increase ranks as the fourth highest rate of increase statewide, up from $396 million in visitor spending in 2020 which was deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the substantial increase in visitor spending last year, Moore County now claims the tenth highest tourism economy in the state, the highest ranking in history. The data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and compiled by Tourism Economics in collaboration with U.S. Travel Association.

“We knew a rebound in visitor spending numbers would happen given the impacts of the pandemic in 2020, but to see such a massive increase and to crack to top 10 in the state as a tourism economy for the first time is great accomplishment,” said Phil Werz, president and CEO of the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The momentum created here by the demand for golf, the USGA building Golf House Pinehurst, effective marketing of the destination and the fact we are in a rural county with great small towns providing unique experiences for our visitors shows Moore County is one of the best places to escape to in North Carolina.”

Tourism impact highlights for 2021:

*Moore County ranks tenth among 100 counties in North Carolina for annual visitor spending.

*The tourism industry employs more than 5,000 people in Moore County, an increase of 15.1 percent from the previous year.

*Tourism in Moore County saved each resident $516.59 in taxes — a savings increase of 46.7 percent from 2020. The state average was $223.80.

*State tax revenue generated by tourism in Moore County totaled $28.1 million, an increase of 51 percent from the previous year.

These statistics come from the “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2021,” which can be accessed at: partners.visitnc.com/economic-impact-studies.

The report also provided visitor spending based on a variety of sectors. Overall, Moore County ranked no worse than eleventh in the state in all of the areas including: Lodging ($168.5 million, ranked 7th); Food and Beverage ($212.26 million, ranked 11th); Recreation ($96.3 million, ranked 9th); Retail ($60.1 million, ranked 8th) and Transportation ($135.9 million, ranked 11th). The rates of increase in visitor spending in each sector compared to the previous year are as follows: Lodging (up 89 percent); Food and Beverage (up 54 percent); Recreation (up 86 percent); Retail (up 63 percent) and Transportation (up 67 percent).

Statewide, visitor spending in 2021 rebounded by 44.9 percent to reach $28.9 billion. Following the devastating pandemic-related losses of the 2020, the total fell just short of the record $29.22 spent in 2019. Direct tourism employment increased 10.5 percent to 197,500.

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

Statewide highlights include:

*Total spending by domestic and international visitors in North Carolina reached $28.9 billion in 2021. That sum represents a 44.9 percent increase over 2020 expenditures. The figure falls 1 percent below the record $29.22 billion spent in 2019.

*Domestic travelers spent a record $28.6 billion in 2021. Spending was up 45.2 percent from $19.7 billion in 2020.

*International travelers spent $337 million in 2021, up 25.6 percent 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 percent increase from 2020.

*State tax receipts from visitor spending rose 34 percent to nearly $1.2 billion in 2021.

*Local tax receipts grew 26 percent to $1.1 billion.

*Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased 10.5 percent to 197,500.

*Direct tourism payroll increased 18.9 percent to $7.7 billion.

*Visitors spent more than $79 million per day in North Carolina. That spending added $6.4 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $3.3 million in state taxes and $3.1 million in local taxes).

*Each North Carolina household saved $580 on average in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state. Savings per capita averaged $222.

*North Carolina hosted nearly 45 million visitors in 2021.

The findings from the annual report are based on the 2021 calendar year. The Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area CVB concluded their 2021-22 fiscal year on June 30 with occupancy tax collections exceeding $3 million for the first time ever, an increase of 39.1% from the previous fiscal year.

Photo of Pinehurst Resort by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer Wendy Hodges.

Contributed.

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