Visitor spending on the rise in Highlands and county

Last week “Visit North Carolina” announced that domestic visitors to and within Macon County spent $170.12 million in 2017 – an increase of 3.65 percent from 2016.

As for the state, Gov. Roy Cooper said visitors to North Carolina in 2017 set a record for spending – $23.99 billion in total spending – representing an increase of 4.2 percent from 2016.

“All eight economic development regions of the state had spending growth of 3 percent or more, and 90 percent of the state’s counties saw direct tourism employment growth from 2016 to 2017,” said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina. “Tourism continues to be a major driver of economic development across North Carolina, which is the sixth most-visited state in the country.”

In Macon County, tourism continues to drive the economy. The travel and tourism industry directly employees more than 1,360; total payroll generated by the tourism industry was $31.65 million; and State tax revenue generated in Macon County totaled $7.65 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. About $13.70 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.

Statewide each North Carolina household saves on average $515 in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state.

The NC Secretary of Commerce, Anthony Copeland, touted the impact of domestic visitor spending in North Carolina for 2017.

“It was another strong year for tourism across the state. North

Carolina ranks number six among the most visited states for domestic travelers,” he said.

Bob Kieltyka, president of the Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center said visitor spending in Macon County has trended upward for several consecutive years.

“This is indicative of the growing popularity of the both the Highlands Plateau and Macon County as a tourist destination,” he said. “Overall, tourism contributes significantly to the county’s growing economy.  In addition to supporting local business, tourism provides employment for nearly 1,400 Macon County citizens and contributes an estimated $535 in tax savings for every household in the county.”

These statistics are from the “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2017,” which can be accessed at -impact-studies. The study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by the U.S. Travel Association.

By Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper


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