Tourism remains one of the leading industries in North Carolina and Surry County, according to an economic impact study that shows the tourism brought $87 million to Surry County in 2008, an increase of 4.4 percent from 2007.
Surry County also rose from ranking 40th in tourism expenditures in the state to 39th.
The county’s jump in tourism numbers is a good sign of progression in a sour economy, said Valerie Oberle, the chair of the Tourism Partnership of Surry County.
“We’re thrilled that in this down economy tourism has increased, and it reinforces we are a county of great vacation experiences,” she said.
The partnership is designed to market and brand the area to bring in tourism dollars. It has been working on a campaign called “Very Surry” that is intended to draw people to the area based on the area’s southern hospitality and southern pleasures.
“We’re excited about launching the new brand and promoting tourism as a strong economic force,” Oberle said.
The Tourism Partnership is one of several tourism organizations including local tourism development authorities that are designed to capitalize on the area’s tourism.
In 2008, the travel and tourism industry directly employed more than 720 people in Surry County and it generated a payroll of $13.45 million. Statistics from the 2008 Economic Impact Of Travel On North Carolina Counties showed that in 2008 visitor spending increased to $16.9 billion, up 2.1 percent from $16.5 billion in 2008. There are 190,000 tourism-related employees in North Carolina and tourism generated a total of more than $1.3 billion tax revenues.
Visitor spending increased in 62 counties in North Carolina and tourism officials say the tourist industry is vital to the economic development efforts as well as employment to the region.
“The goal of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority is to bring in more visitors, who will spend more money and stay longer in our region,” Jessica Icenhour said earlier this week in a press release.
She also said that the Tourism Partnership of Surry County is working together to promote an array of events that includes: Hot Nights and Hot Cars Cruise Ins Pilot Mountain, Pilot Fest, The Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival and downtown events in Elkin, Dobson, Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain.
“Mount Airy has already greeted over 35,000 visitors in 2009 at the Mount Airy Visitors Center and will continue to welcome guests,” Icenhour said.
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