Tourism Spending Increases Locally
Tourism generated more than $374 million in Moore County last year, an increase of 9.3 percent from 2010 and a further sign that the local economy is headed in the right direction.
“That was our largest jump in 12 years,” said Caleb Miles, president and CEO of the Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The good news is that the growth is across all sectors — leisure travel, business and government travel, and meetings and conventions.”
Debbie Stack, general manager of the Residence Inn in Southern Pines, attributes the increase to the sectors feeding off one another. For example, military families live temporarily at the hotel until finding a home, then their families stay at the hotel while visiting.
“Whatever happens at Fort Bragg touches us. When you move a four-star command from Georgia to Fort Bragg, it’s going to open a lot of doors because everything comes with it,” Stack said. “The military segment has been huge for everybody. We’re all absorbing that piece.”
Miles acknowledged that government travel in the wake of the most recent Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan has been an important new market “in the past four or five years,” and has helped ensure that tourism remains a key economic driver in the county.
“The 2011 numbers substantiate that,” he said. “Tourism growth here registered a significant rebound. Hopefully, tourism is a little bit ahead of the curve, and the rest of the county’s economy will follow this trend.”
The county numbers were released earlier this month by the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development. Among other things, they show that:
n The travel and tourism industry directly employs more than 4,880 people in Moore County.
n Total payroll generated by the tourism industry in the county was $81.3 million.
n State tax revenue generated in the county totaled $20.04 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. About $11.52 million in local taxes was generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.
Miles noted that while Moore County ranked 11th out of 100 North Carolina counties in total visitor spending, it ranked ninth in both payroll and employment.
“So, we’re generating more payroll dollars and jobs — on average — relative to our state ranking,” he said. “Obviously, that’s very positive news in today’s economy.”
Miles added that the county generates a higher level of per-capita visitor spending than most of North Carolina.
“All of the other counties in the state that fall into the same category are all located along the coast or in the mountains,” he said.
Gov. Beverly Perdue announced last May that visitors in North Carolina spent a record $18.4 billion in 2011, an increase of 8.2 percent from 2010.
“We outperformed the state in terms of percentage growth, so we gained market share,” Miles said.
After bottoming out at $322 million in 2009, visitor spending in Moore County has bounced back to exceed pre-recession levels.
“As Moore County’s second-largest employer and leading image and brand driver, the visitor sector is well positioned to drive sustained economic recovery in the county and the region for the foreseeable future,” Miles said.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or email@example.com.
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