A report released last week by GRCVB revealed that Wake County welcomed 17.8 million visitors in 2022, a 12.9% increase over 2021. These nearly 18 million visitors who traveled to Wake County spent a record-breaking $3 billion in the community, a 26.1% increase over 2021. After numbers declined in 2020, both visitation and visitor spending recovered and grew steadily in 2022 nearing 2019 pre-pandemic levels. GRCVB independently contracted with industry-leading travel and tourism research firm Tourism Economics to estimate these and other key tourism figures.

Visitor Volume:
Data showed travel confidence rebounded in 2022, falling shy by just 0.2% of the 17.9 million visitors in 2019. With an increase of two million visitors over the previous year, total visitation grew 12.9% over its 2021 volume. Travel that took place in 2022 leaned heavily towards leisure travel, at over 90%, but business travel did increase marginally over 2021.

Visitor Spending:
Food and beverage sales accounted for $837 million or 28% of the $3 billion in visitor spending in 2022, followed by lodging at $705 million. Overall visitor spending in 2022 exceeded 2019 levels by 1.2%, a record high for Wake County.

Visitor volume for Tourism Talk

Tax Revenue:
As a result of the overall $3 billion in visitor spending, a record $287 million in state and local tax revenues were generated by visitors in Wake County in 2022. Tourism-generated tax receipts are used for education, school construction, water, sewer and other necessities as well as quality-of-life amenities for residents. In fact, the research showed each household in Wake County would pay an additional $601 in taxes without the funds provided to local and state governments through travel and tourism – showcasing just how valuable tourism remains to the local economy.

Two visitor-related taxes, the hotel occupancy and prepared food and beverage taxes both saw increases and record-breaking collections in 2022. Hotel occupancy tax collections totaled $32.95 million (up 47.5% over 2021) and prepared food and beverage tax collections equaled more than $40.85 million (up 19.4% over 2021).

According to the research, tourism created work for 24,591 people in Wake County with a payroll of $830 million in 2022. This is a 15% increase in tourism and hospitality jobs over 2021. Although the number of jobs directly supported by visitors increased, it remains 11% below pre-pandemic levels. One out of every 21 Wake County jobs is supported by visitation. In many cases, these visitors can make the difference allowing small businesses to remain open.

“In 2022, Wake County’s tourism and hospitality economy nearly rebounded to the record-breaking 2019 pre-pandemic visitation levels and broke all records in terms of visitor spending and tax generation,” said Dennis Edwards, president and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The resiliency of our county and our strength as an attractive leisure, sports and meetings destination, helped us rebound quickly and remain competitive in the market. At the halfway mark of the Destination 2028 Plan, these numbers put us on track to grow tourism in Wake County to more than our goal of 21 million visitors annually by 2028.”

Below are the high-level figures contained in the report. The full report can be found at visitRaleigh.com/ei.

KPI 2022