In 2019, North Carolina attracted 920,535 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 overseas visitation to the U.S. was down, North Carolina had an increase of 3.6%.
North Carolina's Top 15 International Markets by Market Share (Ranked by Visitors)
|Rank||Country of Origin||2019 Estimated Visitors||Percent Change from 2018||2019 Estimated Spending||Percent Change from 2018||Average Spending per Visitor|
*Tourism Economics, 2020
U.K. and Ireland
The U.K./Ireland is the top overseas market to North Carolina. The state is served directly as follows:
- Two daily non-stop flights to Heathrow.
- Seasonal service to Dublin, Ireland.
- No. 1 overseas market with 84,425 visitors.
- These visitors spent $150.9 million.
Sales & Marketing Accomplishments
In partnership with tour operator, Kuoni, and neighboring states, Georgia and South Carolina, Visit NC was a contributing sponsor for Kuoni's Consumer Facing Campaign at their four festivals throughout the U.K. Total footfall for all shows was 455,000. These potential visitors received a tri-state dedicated American Roadtrip Brochure and saw videos displayed throughout the events.
Sales & Marketing Co-ops
Co-op Marketing was carried out with a number of tour operators across all distribution channels and included activities with:
- America As You Like It
- Bon Voyage
- Platinum Travel
- Travel 2
- Visit North Carolina (U.K. & Ireland) were present at IPW 2019 in Anaheim, CA.
- Visit North Carolina joined other Travel South USA states exhibiting at WTM London.
- North Carolina was present at the Visit USA UNITE Tour Operator day where 21 one-to-one meetings with product managers occurred.
- The U.K. & Ireland office attended the 365 Conference, a great opportunity for them to meet and network with the team from various areas of the state, pickup new information and make new contacts.
- Visit North Carolina participated in the Visit USA Pavilion at the Destinations Consumer shows in Manchester and London, these being held in the key planning months of January and February.
- Visit North Carolina participated at the Holiday World Consumer Show in Dublin, Ireland, held in January 2019.
Following the Brand USA Week Visit NC hosted 18 key travel partners at the Goodwood Revival Festival.
In October, Visit NC and Visit Charlotte teamed with Brand USA to be a sponsor at the Carolina Panther game in London. We hosted 16 trade/media partners for the event.
Visit USA Associations in the U.K. and in Ireland
- Four quarterly meetings attended in the U.K.
- Four quarterly meetings attended in Ireland.
- Hosted table at the Independence Day Visit USA Ball, the key event in the U.K. calendar for the senior members of the travel industry.
- Training spot on the Visit USA Training Roadshow where 250 agents were trained across three cities (Edinburgh, Liverpool and Reading).
- Visit North Carolina attended two key Ireland events for media and tour operators - Irish Travel Industry Awards and TravelMedia USA Summer Evening Event.
Brand USA Multichannel Results
Visit NC partnered with Brand USA to leverage awareness in the U.K. market with their Multichannel 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:
- Individual media familiarization tours took place focusing on the various areas and activities of the state and included a mix of activities and interests.
- Assisted in 34 features reaching 196.4 million
- Published 95 articles reaching 701.5 million
- Coverage was across all media channels including trade and consumer publications, online outlets and radio.
- U.K. & Ireland coverage was statewide from the mountains to the coast.
- Visit North Carolina was represented at key media events during the year, including Visit USA Meet the Media, TravMedia & British Guild of Travel Writers events.
- No. 2 overseas market with 51,044 visitors to North Carolina
- Visitors spent $72.4 million
- Supporting three daily non-stop flights from Munich and Frankfurt to the state
Sales and Marketing Accomplishments
Worked with tour operator, America Unlimited, to produce a high-resolution video and promote through social media to their 160,000 subscribers. Results saw a 30% increase in bookings during the promotion period. It generated 101,819 views on You Tube and 145,604 views on Facebook.
Visit NC participated in Visit USA roadshows in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, training more than 250 travel agents in total on North Carolina's travel assets.
Visit NC teamed with denim jean maker, Mustang, to introduce North Carolina to Mustang jean customers at 50 top point-of-sale retailers in key cities. 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, CANUSA and Alamo donated the prize trip.
American Airline Breakfast Trainings
We conducted three breakfast trainings to launch the new Munich-Charlotte flight on American Airlines in spring 2019. In total, we trained 42 agents.
Sales & Marketing Accomplishments
Co-op Marketing was carried out with a number of operators across all distribution channels and included activities with:
- America Unlimited
- Argus Reisen
- Cruising Reisen
- Knecht Reisen
- USA Reisen
FAM for 11 TUI agents from around Germany was held in Charlotte and Asheville.
Consumer & Travel Trade Shows - featuring the new German Travel Guide
- NC brochure distribution at f.r.e.e Munich, CMT Stuttgart and Reisen Hamburg
- Messe Bremen
German Public Relations Results
- Organized four individual media FAMs
- 350 placements
- 150 Facebook posts reaching 50,000
Other International News
Travel South USA
Visit NC led a large group of statewide partners to the Travel South International Showcase in St. Louis, MO. 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, China and the Nordic countries.
With this partnership, NC hosted a media and tour operator FAM to Raleigh and the Outer Banks.
Along with several other southern states attended a sales mission to China.
Visit North Carolina exhibited in the Travel South booth at IFTM in Paris. Preceding this show a media event was held featuring James Beard Award Winning Chef, Ashley Christensen, at the home of author John Grisham. We hosted 20 journalists and airline representatives at the event.
Visit North Carolina hosted a double North Carolina booth at the U.S. Travel Association's IPW in Anaheim, CA. Visit Charlotte and Visit Raleigh 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 32,000 followers.
Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Australia
In 2021 the Presidents Cup Golf Tournament will be held in Charlotte, NC. To generate excitement for the tournament, Visit NC had a tent at the 2019 tournament in Melbourne. The tent featured a photo booth with the Championship Cup. We collected 1,200 entries for the prize trip. The winner received a trip to Pinehurst, Charlotte and the Outer Banks.
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 2019 we participated in the following programs:
- Inspiration Guide - 575,000 printed USA guides translated into 10 languages for distribution in more than 20 countries.
- Multichannel Campaigns in U.K. and Canada - aimed at both print and digital mediums with online booking included.
- Visit NC participated in the inaugural Travel Week show in London. We met with 36 European based tour operators at one-on-one appointments.