We were delighted to release this information to the media last week, and we're presenting it here again—in case you missed it (ICYMI).

The news is good—tourism in Wake County is alive and well!


Tourism in Wake County Continues to Grow to Record Heights
Raleigh Area Welcomed 16.45 Million Visitors Who Spent $2.5 Billion Locally in 2017;
Visitation, Economic Impact and Job Creation at All-Time Highs

Raleigh, N.C. (July 18, 2018) – Figures released today by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau show that Wake County welcomed 16.45 million visitors in 2017, an increase of 5.3 percent over 2016. Those visitors who traveled to Wake County spent $2.5 billion locally, an increase of 4.0 percent over 2016. Both figures are all-time records. The organization independently contracted with three nationally respected travel and tourism research organizations, DK Shifflet, Tourism Economics and STR, Inc., to estimate these and other key tourism statistics.

Visitors to Wake County generated more than $250 million in state and local tax revenues last year. By generating these revenues, area visitation saved each Wake County household $671. Tourism-generated tax receipts are used for education, school construction, water, sewer and other necessities as well as quality-of-life amenities for residents. If these tax revenues were not generated by visitors, local taxpayers would need to provide the same funding if the current level of service and amenities in Wake County were to be maintained.

According to the research, tourism continues to be one of the largest employment sectors in Wake County supporting 26,170 full time jobs with a payroll of $739.5 million. Tourism employment in Wake County has grown 31.6 percent since 2009, outpacing the county average for growth over that timeframe of 27.3 percent. In fact, the tourism industry in Wake County has added nearly 800 jobs per year since 2009.Visitors“The latest data demonstrates that Wake County continues to be a premier tourism destination for meetings, sporting events and leisure visitation in the Southeast and that tourism plays an important role in impacting the economy county-wide,” said Dennis Edwards, president and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Wake County set several records across key hotel and restaurant performance indicators as well throughout 2017, including a 1.8-percent year-over-year increase in area hotels' average daily rate (to $102.90). Lodging tax collections totaled $25.1 million, up 3.6 percent year-over-year, and prepared food and beverage collections rose 5.3 percent in 2017, amounting to a record $28.3 million.

The county hotel occupancy of 69.1 percent outpaced the state average of 63.4 percent and the national average of 65.9 percent in 2017. Wake County experienced a 2.8-percent increase in hotel availability and with that still had an increase of 1.3 percent in rooms sold.2017 table“Even with the current state of the tourism economy being as bright as it has ever been, now is not time to sit back and declare success,” said Edwards. “We must commit to strategic, sustainable development of the assets needed to attract visitors in today’s ever-changing landscape. This is why we are proud to be unveiling Wake County’s new Destination Strategic Plan, which we’re calling ‘Destination 2028’ at our annual meeting on August 16.

“This 10-year strategic plan will help our stakeholders and elected officials make sound decisions on what new and enhanced tourism infrastructure we need to invest in over the next 10 years based on research, and what will give us the best ROI.”

For an overview of the facts and figures in the report, click here.

Photos by Brian Magee