Visitor spending increases to $5 billion in Mecklenburg County and more than $6.5 billion in Charlotte region

Published: 
August 18, 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 18, 2016) – The economic impact of tourism grew by 3 percent in 2015, with visitors infusing $5 billion in domestic spending into Mecklenburg County. Mecklenburg County represents nearly 23 percent of all travel expenditures in the state and is the number one county in terms of travel spending, nearly 2.5 times the size of the next largest county (Wake County is second at $2.1 billion). 

Visitor spending has seen a steady rise since 2009 and has grown by 52 percent since then, an average of 8.6 percent each year. Nearly 50,000 jobs are supported by visitor spending in Mecklenburg County with a payroll of $1.7 billion, making it an important economic sector with a measurable impact on our community. State and local tax revenues from travel to Mecklenburg County totaled $361 million, representing a $349.39 tax saving for every county resident. 

Tourism spending in the Charlotte region totaled more than $6.5 billion. Jobs supported by visitor spending in the Charlotte region increased to 63,050 in 2015, up from 61,140 in 2014 (a 3.1 percent increase). The Charlotte region encompasses 10 counties total, seven in North Carolina and three in South Carolina, which are outlined in the Charlotte Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). See the table below for further detail on each county in the MSA.

County                 

Economic Impact (millions)   

Employment        

Payroll (millions)

State & Local Tax Collections (millions)

Tax Savings per Resident**   

Cabarrus

$411.58

4,320

$92.97

$30.73

$156.19

Chester*

$22.96

210

$3.53

$1.82

$56.40

Gaston

$241.47

1,890

$39.14

$17.83

$83.50

Iredell

$233.80

1,820

$37.10

$20.03

$117.93

Lancaster*

$30.23

260

$4.53

$2.69

$31.34

Lincoln

$52.38

380

$8.61

$4.48

$55.25

Mecklenburg

$5,037.90

49,870

$1,725.89

$361.29

$349.39

Rowan

$160.47

1,360

$26.83

$13.70

$98.49

Union

$126

990

$20.13

$9.25

$41.54

York*

$206.93

1,950

$34.48

$17.50

$69.67

TOTAL

$6,523.72 (billion)

63,050

$1,993.21 (billion)

$479.32

$197.55 (Average MSA)

"We’re pleased to see the sixth continuous year of growth in Charlotte’s visitor economy,” says CRVA CEO Tom Murray. “We work hard to recruit and host impactful conventions and events in addition to promoting the region as a destination of choice for leisure and business sectors. This type of consistent momentum is what truly creates enduring economic impact that supports our mission of creating jobs and opportunities for our region.” 

Below are some research highlights and business insights that support the record year of growth for the Charlotte region’s visitor economy.

  • The Charlotte region hosted approximately 26.8 million visitors in 2015, an increase of 1 million visitors from 2014.
  • Visitor spending is fueling job growth in Charlotte, with the hospitality and leisure industry growing at a faster pace than total employment. The hospitality and leisure industry overall represents 123,600 jobs in the Charlotte region (a 4.1 percent increase over 2014) and is the fourth-largest industry for employment.
  • More than 9.3 million hotel rooms were sold in the Charlotte region in 2015 (a 3.3 percent increase over 2014), generating more than $910 million in hotel room revenue (a 9.3 percent increase over 2014).

Statewide, domestic visitors spent a record $21.96 billion in 2015, directly supporting 211,487 jobs and nearly $5.2 billion in payroll income across North Carolina. 

"Tourism is a major force in North Carolina's economic development," said Gov. Pat McCrory. "The industry is fueling a continued growth in jobs and contributing substantial sums to the state budget and local economies in every corner of our great state."

The visitor spending figures come from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina and conducted by the U.S. Travel Association. The study uses sales and tax revenue data, employment figures, and other industry and economic data to determine the overall impact of visitor spending in North Carolina. Full tables can be accessed at partners.visitnc.com.

*South Carolina data reflects 2014 research provided by South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism (SCPRT).
**The Tax Savings per Resident is calculated by taking the total state and local tax collections and dividing it by population. 


About Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)
The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) works to deliver experiences that uniquely enrich the lives of our visitors and residents. Through leadership in destination development, marketing and venue management expertise, the CRVA leads efforts to maximize the region’s economic potential through visitor spending, creating jobs and opportunities for the community. Brands supported by the CRVA include the Charlotte Convention Center, Time Warner Cable Arena, Bojangles’ Coliseum, Ovens Auditorium, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte Regional Film Commission and Visit Charlotte in conjunction with the region’s destination marketing brand, ‘Charlotte’s got a lot.' Find more information at crva.com.

###