Oversees Visitors

Overseas Visitors

In 2018, North Carolina attracted 888,600 international visitors who spent an estimated $1.2 billion in the state. Canada, the U.K. and Germany were the top countries of origin to the state in terms of visitor volume. Other top countries of origin were China, Mexico, India, Japan, France, Brazil and Australia.

While visitation to the US was down, NC had an increase of 3.2 percent.

North Carolina’s Top 15 International Markets by Market Share (Ranked by Visitors)

Rank Country of Origin 2018 Est. Visitors % Change from 2017 2018 Total Spent % Change from 2017 Avg Spending per Visitor
1 Canada 400,800 +3.7% $232m +1.3% $579
2 United Kingdom 77,500 +1.8% $134m +5.1% $1,729
3 Germany 51,200 +1.2% $76m +2.3% $1,484
4 China 32,400 -10.8% $90m -12.0% $2,778
5 Mexico 27,500 +10.1% $13m +5.9% $473
6 India 25,400 +2.9% $60m +4.4% $2,362
7 Japan 18,800 -7.4% $39m -5.7% $2,074
8 France 17,700 +3.1% $22m +1.2% $1,243
9 Brazil 15,800 +15.3% $37m +14.8% $2,342
10 Australia 14,200 +15.1% $28m +22.3% $1,972
11 Spain 10,600 +3.9% $11m +6.5% $1,038
12 Italy 10,200 +0.1% $14m -0.4% $1,373
13 South Korea 9,800 -10.3% $23m -5.1% $2,347
14 Sweden 8,400 -0.4% $10m -1.7% $1,190
15 Ireland 7,400 +8.5% $10m +9.3% $1,351
Total 888,600 +3.2% $1.2b +2.4% $1,350

*Tourism Economics, 2019

U.K. and Ireland

Market Highlights:

The U.K./Ireland is the top overseas market to North Carolina. The state is served directly as follows:

Sales & Marketing Accomplishments

In partnership with North Carolina based, Yep Roc Records, Visit NC promoted NC Music with a promotion to win a trip to Merlefest. A microsite was promoted with music and tourism info. Promotion ran for two weeks and generated 4,400 entries.

Later in the summer, Visit NC again partnered with Yep Roc Records at the Cambridge Folk Festival in the UK. Visit NC was the first destination sponsor at the event. Over the three-day event NC BBQ and beer were featured. The children’s area was visited by Blackbeard the Pirate daily. Rhiannon Giddens, a North Carolina musician, was the guest curator of the festival often mentioning her home state to various audiences. Partners from Cabarrus CVB and Visit Raleigh attended with Visit NC donating daily prizes.

Sales & Marketing Accomplishments

Co-op Marketing was carried out with a number of operators across all distribution channels and included activities with:

Trade Shows

Consumer Shows

Sales Missions

Prior to the Cambridge Folk Festival representatives from Visit NC, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Cabarrus CVB and Visit Raleigh held media meetings, trainings and events with key operators in and around London.

Visit USA Associations in the U.K. and in Ireland

Brand USA Multi-Channel Results

Visit NC partnered with Brand USA to leverage awareness in the UK market with their Multi-Channel Campaign. Through print and digital channels North Carolina was featured for six weeks. Results during that time were three million impressions, 1,503 room nights booked, and 202 flights generating $181,000.

U.K. Public Relations Results:


Market Highlights:

Sales and Marketing Accomplishments

Visit North Carolina conducted cooperative marketing with different tour operators, consumer campaigns, as well as trainings and sales calls throughout Germany and Switzerland.


On behalf of Visit North Carolina we participated in Visit USA roadshows in Germany, Switzerland and Austria training more than 250 travel agents in total on North Carolina.

Blackbeard Campaign

Visit North Carolina teamed with men’s grooming company, Blackbeard, to introduce North Carolina to all of Blackbeard’s customers. A microsite, video and social campaign were created that promoted North Carolina as well as their products. The campaign lasted for six weeks. Our tour operator partner, FTI donated the prize trip.


Sales & Marketing Accomplishments

Co-op Marketing was carried out with a number of operators across all distribution channels and included activities with:

Sales Mission

April 2018 – Accomplished trainings for tour operators and travel agents as well media visits in Berlin and Vienna.

Consumer & Travel Trade Shows

German Public Relations Results

Other International News

Travel South USA

Visit North Carolina led a large group of statewide partners to the Travel South International Showcase in Nashville, TN. Nearly 100 international tour operators from 12 countries met with North Carolina CVBs, attractions and hotels to increase interest in international visitation to North Carolina.

Through a partnership with Travel South USA, Visit North Carolina has also been able to cost-effectively secure limited PR and marketing representation in France, Italy, Benelux and China.

With this partnership, NC hosted several media and tour operator fams.

Along with several other Southern States attended a sales mission to Italy and France.


Visit North Carolina hosted a double North Carolina booth at the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW in Denver, CO. Visit Charlotte, Visit Raleigh and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau joined the state in more than 85 trade and media appointments.

WeChat in China

Visit North Carolina has a weekly post on WeChat in China with more than 29,000 followers.

Brand USA Co-op Marketing Programs

By leveraging our marketing dollars with Brand USA, we have been able to have an impact in several international markets despite our limited funding. We get the power of three times our promotional dollars to increase awareness to potential visitors.

In 2018 we participated in the following programs: