Year in Review

2015: The Year in Review

North Carolina's tourism industry achieved record performance in 2015, with estimated visitor spending increasing in 91 of the state’s 100 counties and resulting in an all-time high of $21.96 billion in direct spending, a 3.0 percent increase over 2014 which outpaced the national average for growth in 2015 of only 2.1 percent. Spending by travelers directly supported more than 211,000 jobs for North Carolinians, setting yet another record. Additionally, payroll income increased 7.1 percent to top $5 billion for the first time. Visitor spending generated roughly $1.79 billion in state and local tax revenues for reinvestment in communities all across North Carolina.

Source: U.S. Travel Association

Partnerships with destinations, attractions, lodging and dining properties and associations statewide remain key to North Carolina's success. Effective collaboration within the tourism industry contributed to North Carolina maintaining its position as the nation’s sixth most-visited state.

Source: TNS TravelsAmerica


Program Highlights for 2015

Employment generated by domestic and international travelers in North Carolina increased 3.2 percent in 2015. These travel-related jobs composed 5.2 percent of total non-agricultural employment in North Carolina during 2015.

Source: U.S. Travel Association

On an average day in 2015, visitors in North Carolina spent more than $60 million and contributed about $4.9 million in state and local taxes.

Source: U.S. Travel Association

Visit North Carolina operated on the state’s brand promise of Inspiring More. With its vast, pristine beaches, relaxing mountains, vibrant cities, amazing culture and hundreds of fun-filled excursions, North Carolina is that state that inspires its visitors to see, experience, engage and connect more. Visit North Carolina continued to bring to life this positioning strategy through advertising, public relations, digital messaging and more. ended 2015 with a record 6.1 million user sessions, a 14.61 percent increase from 2014. These sessions drove a record 1.97 million downstream referrals to North Carolina industry partner websites, and the site generated a total of 3.7 million key performance indicator actions.

Social media continued its growth in 2015, with followers across Visit NC Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube channels reaching 184,992, a 55 percent growth year-over-year. Instagram was the fastest growing channel, growing at an average monthly rate of 12 percent. Owned content across platforms generated 801,381 total engagements and more than 252 million potential impressions. There were 43,379 #visitnc mentions across Twitter and Instagram. Social traffic to increased by 148 percent, with 136,324 referrals.

Visit North Carolina cost-effectively enhanced its efforts to reach travelers increasingly planning travel online by shifting more of its investment to digital advertising, including a strategically selected mix of publishers and networks to drive brand awareness, site traffic and conversions for downstream referrals.

Proactive public relations efforts expanded Visit North Carolina’s outreach to key audiences with a program that reached more than 1.2 billion consumer impressions across the United States and 784 million internationally.

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 within and outside the state.

The North Carolina Film Office continued to attract productions to film in the state. 2015 saw the end of the refundable tax credit and the start of the new Film and Entertainment Grant, which had a one-time allocation of $10 million. N.C. Department of Revenue reported that as of April 2016, five film projects had filed tax paperwork with the agency that totaled $96,344,090 in direct spending while employing 3,627 people. Among the many 2015 highlights were the filming of Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks, season three of Under the Dome, seasons two and three of A Chef’s Life, season two of My Big Fat Fabulous Life, a continued first season of Love It or List It, the pilot episode of Good Behavior, The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter, and national commercials for Oscar Meyer, Golden Corral, Goodyear, Nationwide and Mountain Dew.

Visit North Carolina’s partnership with the North Carolina Sports Association 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 an ongoing partnership with the NC Department of Commerce and NC Department of Natural & Cultural Resources on efforts including Cultural Heritage Tourism Development, Blue Ridge Music Trails and an expanded schedule for Visit North Carolina’s Tourism Resource Assistance Center.

Please review the balance of this Annual Report for more details on Visit North Carolina’s 2015 program of work and accomplishments. Visit North Carolina remains committed to its 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.