- In 2019, it is estimated domestic visitors to North Carolina spent a record $26.8 billion in the state, an increase of 5.6% from 2018.
- Ninety-five percent of North Carolina’s 100 counties experienced growth in visitor spending in 2019.
- Domestic visitor spending directly supported 236,580 jobs for North Carolina residents and the tourism industry directly contributed $6.67 billion to the state’s payroll in 2019.
- Traveler spending generated $4.16 billion in federal, state and local tax receipts, an increase of 5.3% from 2018.
- Mecklenburg County received nearly $6.0 billion in domestic travelers' expenditures, the highest in the state. Wake County ranked second with nearly $2.6 billion, followed by Guilford County with nearly $1.6 billion, Buncombe County with $1.3 billion and Dare County with nearly $1.3 billion in visitor spending.
- Warren County had the largest percentage increase at 16.6% followed by Caldwell (10.1%), Stokes (9.0%), Greene (8.9%) and Perquimans (8.8%) counties. Montgomery followed with an 8.4% increase. Moore (8.1%), Transylvania (8.1%), Watauga (7.9%) and Yancey (7.9%) counties rounding out the top 10 largest increases in 2019.
- Positive spending growth was seen throughout the state’s economic development regions. The North Central Region led the state with a 6.3% increase in spending, followed by the Piedmont Triad Region with 6.1%. All eight regions had spending growth of 5% or more.
- Mecklenburg County had the largest direct employment in the tourism sector with 54,531 employees and the largest payroll at $2.1 billion. Wake (24,772), Guilford (14,995), Dare (13,883) and Buncombe (12,516) counties each had more than 10,000 direct tourism employees.
- Eighty-one percent of the state’s counties saw direct tourism employment growth in 2019. The counties with the largest increases in direct tourism employment were Yancey (+5.7%), Montgomery (+5.6%), Caldwell (+5.6%), Guilford (+5.3%), Mitchell (+5.3%), Moore (+4.8%) and Transylvania (+4.7%) counties.
Source: U.S. Travel Association
2019 Travel Volume
North Carolina person-trip volume was 48.1 million in 2018, ranking North Carolina No. 6 in total domestic person-trip volume.
2019 Total State Rankings by Volume
- New York
- North Carolina
Average Trip Spending
North Carolina overnight visitor parties spent approximately $760 per trip in 2019. Out-of-state visitors spent approximately $935 per trip in 2019, while in-state resident travel parties spent $488 per trip on average. This represents a 63% difference in average per trip among resident visitors traveling within the state and out-of-state visitor parties.
U.S. travel parties on average spent $919 per trip in 2019.
Average Overnight Trip Duration
The average length of stay of North Carolina visitors was 3.6 nights in 2018. Resident visitors stayed an average of 3.1 nights, while out-of-state visitors stayed an average of 4.0 nights.
U.S. travelers stayed an average of 3.5 nights per trip in 2019.
North Carolina’s Top States of Origin for Overnight Visitors
NC's Activities for Overnight Visitors
Research shows overnight visitors to North Carolina participate in a wide variety of activities, further emphasizing the diversity of the tourism product in the state.
While visiting friends and relatives and shopping are routinely mentioned every year among all travelers, exploring the state’s scenic beauty, state and national parks, and rich cultural assets are among the most popular specific activities surveyed.