Visit North Carolina released economic visitor impact numbers this week and Catawba County and the Hickory Metro saw an increase in all categories that range from visitors expenditures to local tax receipts.
The U.S. Travel Association prepares the 2016 economic impact of travel in North Carolina counties for Visit North Carolina. The study uses sales and tax revenue data, employment figures and other industry and economic data to determine the overall impact of visitor spending in North Carolina.
"Out of 100 North Carolina counties, Catawba County had the 16th highest in revenues from visitor expenditures, which is impressive and something encouraging to talk about in our community and beyond," said Mandy Pitts Hildebrand, Chief Executive Officer of the Hickory Metro Convention Center & Visitors Bureau. "We are a destination for business and leisure travelers and have seen an increase over several years in all categories and with all the positive energy and projects going on in our area, I remain optimistic about the strong momentum we are experiencing which in my mind indicates the vitality of our community."
2016 Catawba County Visitor Impact numbers:
"We have also come a long way since this study began as in 1990 visitor expenditures were $102 million and in 2016 visitor expenditures were $264 million," added Hildebrand. "The increase in all areas is a win for attractions, restaurants, hotels and the community as a whole. It's nice to be in an industry that makes people happy because when people come here to visit for business or leisure they are impressed with all there is to do in our community, our hotels, shopping opportunities and the wide variety of restaurants."
Local businesses generate a lot of business travel, which is an incredible benefit to the community. Educational institutions like Lenoir-Rhyne University also bring people to the area, which also makes a big difference on the economic impact.
Catawba County has more than 20 hotels, and hundreds of restaurants from farm to table cuisine to well known chains. There are numerous attractions within Catawba County including the Hickory Furniture Mart, Hickory Crawdads, Hickory Motor Speedway, Catawba County Historic Association museums and sights, Hickory Community Theatre, Green Room Community Theatre, Catawba Science Center, Hickory Museum of Art, and many other arts and culture organizations, as well as parks, recreation centers, sporting events and tournaments.
Additional 2016 Hickory Metro Tourism Visitor Impact numbers:
The Economic Development Partnership North Carolina (EDPNC) and Visit North Carolina said that 97 of the state's 100 counties saw increases in visitor spending in 2016. Domestic visitors spent a record $22.9 billion statewide in 2016, an increase of 4.4 percent from the previous year. State tax receipts as a result of visitor spending neared $1.2 billion in 2016, and local tax revenues directly resulting from visitor spending totaled more than $693 million. Visitor expenditures directly supported 219,094 jobs and generated nearly $5.6 billion in payroll income across North Carolina.
"North Carolina is an exceptionally beautiful state loved by residents and visitors," said Executive Director of Visit North Carolina Wit Tuttell. "North Carolina's position as the sixth most-visited state in the nation with more than 48 million visitors in 2016 reinforces its status as a premier tourism destination."
"All eight economic development regions of the state had spending growth of 3 percent or more, and 96 percent of the state's counties saw direct tourism employment growth from 2015 to 2016," added Tuttell. "Tourism continues to be major driver of economic development across North Carolina, which is the sixth most-visited state in the country."
Statewide highlights include:
For more information about North Carolina Tourism go to www.VisitNC.com and for more information about the Hickory Metro Convention Center & Visitors Bureau go to www.HickoryMetro.com or call (828) 322-1335.