Transylvania County ranks in top 10 for annual tourism growth in NC

Press release from Transylvania County Tourism:

Transylvania County has yet again ranked in the top ten for annual growth in the Visit North Carolina Visitor Impact Study for 2019. 

Domestic visitors to and within Transylvania County spent $115 million in 2019, an increase of 8.1 percent from 2018. The data came from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. Visitors to North Carolina set a record for spending in 2019. The $26.7 billion in total spending represented an increase of 5.6 percent from 2018. 

Positive spending growth was seen throughout the state’s economic development regions. The Western region was among the top three regions experiencing the strongest growth at 5.9 percent. “2019 was a record-breaking year in hospitality and tourism for both our local market as well as the national industry. Transylvania County’s traditional accommodations and short-term rentals experienced an increase of over 10% growth in the number of overnight visitors each month compared to prior years,” said Layton Parker, Transylvania County Tourism (TCT) Board Chair.

Transylvania County’s tourism economy employed over 900 people in 2019, an increase of 4.7 percent from 2018. The total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Transylvania County amounted to over $22 million. 

State tax revenue in Transylvania County totaled $4.3 million through state sales, excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. $5.26 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses. As a result, savings to Transylvania County taxpayers increased in 2019 to $272.00 per resident.

These statistics are from the “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2019,” which can be accessed at The study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by the U.S. Travel Association.

“The numbers confirm the strength of North Carolina’s tourism industry as an anchor of economic development,” said Wit Tuttell, director of Visit North Carolina. “As the No. 6 state in the country for overnight visitation, we can attribute our success to the natural beauty and authenticity that visitors experience, and to a passionate effort to inform and inspire travelers. The money they spend benefits everyone by sustaining jobs and reducing our residents’ tax burden.”

Statewide highlights include:

  • State tax receipts as a result of visitor spending rose 5.0 percent to more than $1.3 billion in 2019. 
  • Visitors spend more than $73 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds $5.92 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $3.7 million in state taxes and $2.2 million in local taxes).
  • The travel and tourism industry directly employs more than 235,000 North Carolinians.
  • Each North Carolina household saves on average $551 in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state. 

“As visitation to Transylvania County has increased over the years, I’m proud of the way our organization has adjusted,” said TCT Executive Director Clark Lovelace, “Substantial marketing dollars have been shifted to promoting times with less visitation and to supporting our tourism partners and our destination. We feel that our role is not just to market Transylvania County, but to ensure that it continues to be a special place for a long time to come.”

Recent TCT efforts include setting aside $100,000 towards the development of the Ecusta Trail and providing $20,000 to support local businesses through the Transylvania Tomorrow Small Business Emergency Relief Fund. TCT has also done incredible work as the funding source and facilitator of the Transylvania Always initiative, a unique task force of community partners dedicated to sustainable practices in the community, forests, and waters.  This program recently launched “Leave It Better”, a sustainability initiative that encourages locals and visitors alike to preserve and protect our public lands. 

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