Why tourism matters. 

We talk about that a lot, but the relevance of tourism to the health and vitality of Raleigh and Wake County has never been more apparent since the pandemic began. We are teaming with Destinations International, the international association for destination management and our professional development, to make sure our partners, stakeholders and neighbors know how important tourism is to the county.

Travel is a key driver of economic growth. Across the country, more than one worker in 10 is employed in the tourism industries. Historically in Wake County, tourism accounts for $2.9 billion in spending annually, contributing $284 million in tax revenues every year and putting more than 28,000 people to work.

But it was the travel and tourism sector that was hardest hit by the pandemic. When travel slowed and businesses shut down to protect public health in our community, these shutdowns disproportionately affected the tourism industries. One in three people who lost their job during the pandemic worked in the hospitality and leisure sector.

GRCVB is tasked with promoting all of Wake County. We work every day to tell the world what makes this place so special. Our mandate is to attract visitors who eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores, who fill our hotels as well as the groups which hold meetings and sports events here.

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We know that effective destination promotion is crucial to bringing back the travel and tourism sector. When we attract visitors to Raleigh, N.C., we attract new spending in our communities, and more importantly, we put hospitality and service sector employees back to work.

And the benefits of destination promotion are not limited to tourism itself. Destination marketing raises the profile of the Raleigh area, creating a positive image that encourages businesses to locate here, attracts new residents, leads to real estate investments, contributes to our arts and cultural industries' renown and makes the county a better place to live. Destination promotion is for the benefit and well-being of every person. It is an essential investment to develop opportunities and build quality of place to benefit the people here.

Now is the time to engage in destination promotion. Research shows that intent to travel this year is higher than it has been since the start of the pandemic. Metrics like sessions to our website (up 73% fiscal year-to-date from prior FYTD) and group sales leads (up 105% FYTD from prior FYTD) tell us that more clients and individual travelers than ever are considering visiting Raleigh and the surrounding municipalities. This means that our work is more crucial now than ever to ensure that we can compete with other state and national destinations for our share of visitors.

We know that Wake County counts on us to promote this place. We take that responsibility seriously because we know that what we do is helping to drive our economic recovery.

Photo by Garrett Poulos