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WNC Business

NC rises to No. 5 In US visitation

May 22, 2024 08:55AM ● By WNC Business
Governor Roy Cooper announced that the North Carolina tourism economy reached its highest level ever with travelers spending more than $35.6 billion on trips to and within the state. The previous record of $33.3 billion was set in 2022.

Governor Cooper’s announcement coincides with National Travel and Tourism Week (May 19-25), when travel and tourism professionals across the country unite to underscore the value of travel to the economy, businesses, communities and personal well-being. The state’s Welcome Centers will host activities throughout the week. 

The state’s tourism-supported workforce increased 4.8% to 227,200 jobs in 2023. Tourism payroll increased 6.6% to $9.3 billion. Also, as a result of visitor spending, state and local governments saw rebounds in tax revenues to nearly $2.6 billion.

The figures are preliminary findings from research commissioned by Visit North Carolina, part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, and conducted by Tourism Economics. In measuring the economic value of the travel sector, the research incorporates a broad range of data sources to ensure that the entire visitor economy is quantified in detail. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, OmniTrak visitor profiles, the US Census, STR, AirDNA and KeyData lodging reports, and the NC Department of Revenue are among the sources included in this comprehensive model. More information about the study can be found online at, which also links to archived reports dating back to 2005.

With nearly 43 million visitors from across the United States, North Carolina ranks No. 5 behind California, Florida, Texas, and New York in domestic visitation. The past four years have seen tight competition with Pennsylvania and Tennessee for fifth place. In addition to 2023’s record spending by domestic travelers, North Carolina also saw gains in the international market. With nearly 700,000 international travelers, spending rose 9.5% to $997 million.

Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said that as a result of travelers’ contributions to state and local tax revenue, North Carolina households average $518 in yearly savings.

North Carolina tourism facts:

  • Total spending by domestic and international visitors in North Carolina reached $35.6 billion in 2023. That sum represents a 6.9% increase over 2022 expenditures.
  • Domestic travelers spent a record $34.6 billion in 2023. Spending was up 6.8% from $32.4 billion in 2022.
  • International travelers spent $997 million in 2023, up 9.5% from the previous year.
  • Visitors to North Carolina generated nearly $4.5 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2023. The total represents a 5.8% increase from 2022.
  • State tax receipts from visitor spending rose 5.6% to $1.3 billion in 2023.
  • Local tax receipts grew 5.4% to $1.2 billion.
  • Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased 4.8% to 227,200.
  • Direct tourism payroll increased 6.6%to nearly $9.3 billion.
  • Visitors spend more than $97 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds $7.1 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $3.7 million in state taxes and $3.4 million in local taxes).
  • Each North Carolina household saved $518 on average in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state. Savings per capita averaged $239.

About Visit North Carolina:
Visit NC, the state’s official destination marketing organization, is part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, a private nonprofit corporation that serves as North Carolina’s economic development organization. The EDPNC focuses on business and job recruitment, existing industry support, international trade, tourism, and film marketing. The mission of Visit NC is to unify and lead the state in positioning North Carolina as a preferred destination for leisure travel, group tours, meetings and conventions, sports events, and film production. Each year, North Carolina welcomes about 43 million visitors who spend nearly $36 billion during their stay. The tourism industry employs more than 227,000 people and generates nearly $2.6 billion in state and local tax revenues. For travel ideas and inspiration, go to

Source: NC Department of Commerce