First Posted: 5/27/2009
As the start of the heavy tourist season begins, its off to a rather good start, according to recent data released from North Carolina Department of Commerce that shows tourism expenditures on the rise in 2008 from 2007.
In 2008, domestic travelers spent $16.9 billion across the state, which is a little more than a two percent increase from 2007.
Tourism expenditures directly supported 190,500 jobs for North Carolina residents, and generated $4.18 billion to the states payroll in 2008.
One of the largest impacts by tourism was food service, which generated $5.4 billion, followed by auto transportation and lodging which each saw $3 billion revenue.
As one of North Carolinas leading industries, tourisms economic drive is also making a significant impact in Mount Airy.
It is important to know that North Carolina moved from the seventh most visited state to the sixth in the United States in trip volume, said Jessica Icenhour, the director of tourism at the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce.
Referring to data released by the states department of commerce, Icenhour said she thought their numbers for the state were an accurate match for Mount Airy as well.
Thirty-four percent of people who come to North Carolina are from North Carolina and I would agree with their research (that the remainder come from) Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania, she said.
I would also add that around 90 percent of our visitors are leisure visitors and the state mentioned 80.9 percent are leisure visitors. I would say the remainder (come for) small meetings and conventions such as the past meetings we have held in the past years such as The North Carolina Travel Industry Association, NC Association of Ruritans, NC Highway Auxiliary Patrol and so on. Mount Airy is a great destination for small meetings because of all the things we have to see and do and affordable lodging.
Since the Mount Airy Visitors Center opened in November 2005, the staff has greeted and tracked 162,082 visitors through its doors. Visitor activity slowed down in March 2009, dropping to 3,141 from 3,643 in March 2008.
But last month, numbers picked up again. In April 2009, 5,502 visitors came to Mount Airy, which 103 more than in April 2008.
Icenhour said she thinks Mount Airys largest lure for tourists is its variety of activities at an affordable price.
We were recently featured on a news station for family value trips. Were not to far away, but far away enough for it to still feel like a vacation. Were still close to cities like Raleigh and Greensboro, and were affordable with a variety of great things to do as well.
She mentioned that some of those activities include pottery and crafts, vineyards, historical attractions and outdoor activities like ziplining and canoeing.
She added North Carolina being bumped up as the seventh to sixth most visited state is an indicator that tourism is an effective source of economic profit for the state.
Its a positive indicator that the state is strong in tourism, I think the fact that we have mountains, coasts, four distinct seasons attracts people. We have a region that provides neat activities for visitors, she said.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.