2011 The Year in Review
North Carolina's tourism industry achieved new milestones in success in 2011, with each of the state's 100 counties reporting increased visitor spending. Domestic visitors to North Carolina spent a record $18.4 billion in 2011. This record domestic spending directly supported 188,400 jobs with a payroll of $4.19 billion and generated $1.52 billion in state and local tax revenues for reinvestment in communities all across North Carolina.
Statewide partnerships with destinations, attractions, lodging and dining properties and associations statewide remain key to North Carolina's success. Despite a marketing budget ranking 27th out of the 50 states, North Carolina ranked sixth nationally in overnight visitation in 2011.
Program highlights for 2011
- The Division launched a new marketing communications campaign in 2011 striving to establish a more emotional connection between travelers and North Carolina. While continuing to showcase the state's renowned scenic beauty and vibrant cities, the "Deeper Connections" message strategy is well suited for sharing more stories about the distinctive places, personalities and flavors that call North Carolina home.
- The VisitNC.com family of websites attracted 3.87 million user sessions, a 5.48 percent increase over 2010, and provided more than 1.14 million downstream referrals to North Carolina industry partner websites.
- The Division introduced a new mobile website promoting wine tourism making it easier for travelers and wine enthusiasts to plan their visits to the more than 100 wineries across the state.
- The Film Office continued to leverage the state’s 25 percent tax credit for film, television and commercial production in its marketing, and collaborative efforts with partners statewide led to more than 31,000 jobs and $241 million in direct spending during 2011. Among many highlights was the filming of The Hunger Games in the Western and Charlotte regions.
- The Division’s partnership with the North Carolina Sports Association and NC Amateur Sports continued to pay dividends with the state’s success in attracting sporting events to small and large communities.
- Tourism development outreach in small communities was strengthened through several initiatives including the ongoing partnership with the NC Department of Transportation and NC Department of Cultural Resources in the popular North Carolina Civil War Trails program, an expanded schedule for the Division’s Tourism Resource Assistance Center program and four regional Mid-Year Marketing Update sessions.
- The Division continued its collaboration with East Carolina University's Center for Sustainable Tourism and the Office of Economic Development to promote environmental and social responsibility throughout the state's tourism industry, including use of a staff member to help strengthen the state's leadership position in sustainability.
- Cooperative marketing programs with NC travel industry partners and effective partnerships with in-state media associations resulted in an estimated $6 million in incremental direct investment, in-kind support and brand exposure for North Carolina and VisitNC.com within and outside the state.
Please review the balance of this Annual Report for more details on the Division's 2011 program of work and accomplishments. We remain committed to our collaboration with partners statewide to ensure North Carolina's continued growth and success as a preferred travel, film and sports destination and positive economic force for the entire state.