RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY) — When people traveled to North Carolina last year, they didn’t leave their wallets at home.
There was record visitor spending in 2022, according to preliminary findings from a study commissioned by Visit North Carolina. The goal is to reflect the economic impact of tourism on local economies across the state.
Higher prices overall have an impact on the numbers, but travel statewide rose 15.2% in 2022.
Looking at county-by-county statistics, in northeast North Carolina, Dare County leads the pack with an estimated $2 billion spent by visitors, up 8% from the prior year. Currituck County comes in at No. 14 with $550 million spent, up 16.2%. Both counties are considered part of the Outer Banks.
2022 saw a strong resurgence for North Carolina’s urban counties. Wake, Mecklenburg and Durham were among the counties that led the state’s 15.2% growth in visitor spending, which reached a record $33.3 billion.
Northeast North Carolina was also represented at the bottom on the list with Camden County at No. 100. The rural community has less than $4 million in tourism spending, but that was up 15.8%.
“As we celebrate a record $33.3 billion in visitor spending statewide, we’re pleased that counties that rely on business travel as well as leisure trips are doing well,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said, in a release. “Tourism has long been one of North Carolina’s most vital industries, and we can take pride in the hospitality and authentic experiences that appeal to the needs and interests of millions of visitors who come to our state each year.”