In case you missed it—GRCVB released its 2018 Year-End Tourism Industry Report last month. These numbers are of interest to all of us in the Wake County hospitality sector.


2018 Year-End Tourism Industry Report

Wake County hospitality industry has one of the best years on record,
outperforms state averages and brings in record-breaking tax collection amounts

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh) has released the 2018 Year-End Tourism Industry Report. Wake County hotels outperformed their 2017 marks as well as exceeded the state averages across all key performance indicators in 2018. Additionally, hotel occupancy as well as prepared food and beverage tax collections both saw record amounts. Rooms sold in Wake County increased 6.1% over 2017, and future bookings made by Visit Raleigh and Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance (GRSA) specifically totaled 375 groups representing more than 271,000 room-nights and creating an estimated direct economic impact across Wake County of $194.4 million.

In 2018 according to the Smith Travel Research, occupancy went up 1.7% over 2017, Average Daily Rate (ADR) grew 3.4% and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) increased 5.1%. This means occupancy rates across Wake County continue to outperform both the state and national averages, and Wake County hotels also continue to outpace the state averages for ADR and RevPAR.

Wake County hospitality industry KPIs – according to Smith Travel Research
2018 (Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2018):

2018 Year End Tourism report 1

During the fourth quarter of 2018 (Oct. 1–Dec. 31, 2018), Visit Raleigh and the GRSA combined to host 80 conventions, sporting events and groups and welcomed more than 169,000 attendees to Raleigh, N.C. The quarter was capped off by hosting the Showcase Series over four weekends in Nov. and early Dec. This annual, elite-level youth soccer event, put on by North Carolina FC Youth, brought in 70,000+ attendees for more than 32,000 total room-nights across the county.

A busy fourth quarter was highlighted by a few key conventions, sporting events and groups impacting overnight visitation including:

“2018 was a banner year in terms of the hospitality industry’s performance across the board in Wake County,” said President and CEO of Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh) Dennis Edwards. “All signs point to 2019 continuing an upward trajectory as the hospitality industry and visitation across Wake County remain very healthy. The desirability of Raleigh, N.C., as a place to visit, live, work and invest continues to grow.”

With visitation growing to more than 16 million visitors annually, hotel occupancy tax collections totaled almost $28 million and prepared food and beverage tax collections totaled more than $30 million in 2018.

2018 Year End Tourism report 2

The fourth quarter was also productive in booking future conventions, sporting events and groups in Wake County. Together Visit Raleigh and GRSA booked 73 groups totaling more than 106,000 room-nights of future business. At the close of 2018 Visit Raleigh and GRSA combined booked 375 groups for more than 271,000 room-nights, creating a direct economic impact of $194.4 million.

Future meetings, conventions and sporting events booked during the fourth quarter include:

  • International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass Business Conference and Wide Open Bluegrass street festival: Sept. 24-28, 2019; combined attendance of 152,500 attendees
  • American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association’s Annual Meeting: April 25-May 2, 2021; 800 attendees
  • Special Operations Medical Association Scientific Assembly: May 8-15, 2020, and May 6-12, 2022; 1,000 attendees each year
  • Deep South Classic: April 25-28, 2019; 13,500 attendees
  • All Star Challenge Cheer and Dance Competition: Feb. 2-3, 2019; 8,600 attendees
  • Mid-Atlantic Power League Raleigh: March 2-3, 2019; 5,300 attendees

Photo by Jeff Fasno