Domestic and international visitors to and within Warren County spent $49.6 million in 2020, an increase of 32 percent from 2019, according to an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
For a second year in a row, the county’s growth rate was the highest in North Carolina compared to all other counties from the year 2019 to 2020.
Of the $49.6 million related to visitor spending, $12 million came from lodging, $15.5 million from food and beverage, $6.7 million from recreation, $4.8 million from retail, and $10.6 million from transportation.
The study also reveals that Warren County was the only county in its region to see growth; all other counties in the North Central region saw a decrease in visitor spending, including Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Orange, Person, Vance and Wake counties.
“We are fortunate that Warren County’s travel and tourism industry has been able to demonstrate such resilience during a difficult year,” stated Charla Duncan, director of Warren County Community & Economic Development. “Individually, many of our businesses have certainly experienced similar challenges as other small businesses across America during this pandemic. The strength in Warren County, particularly during 2020, is that our natural and cultural assets are a stable, safe, and desirable resource for visitors.”
“Warren County has opportunities for day trippers, weekenders, and repeat visitors, and our local economy benefits from that,” Duncan added.
“It is great to see this positive news as we adjust to the long-term impact of the pandemic,” said County Manager Vincent Jones. “We hope that this new energy we are seeing as people discover and rediscover the charm of Warren County is sustained going forward.”
According to Visit NC data, the Warren County travel and tourism industry directly employees 231 people; this is an increase in employment related to visitor spending since 2019. The total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Warren County in 2020 was $10.1 million.
In 2020, state tax revenue generated in Warren County totaled $1.6 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. Approximately $3.4 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.
These statistics come from the Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2020, which can be accessed at partners.visitnc.com/economic-impact-studies. The study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by Tourism Economics in collaboration with the U.S. Travel Association.
“We are extremely gratified that tourism thrived in 20 counties in the face of pandemic shutdowns and other impediments to travel,” said Visit NC Director Wit Tuttell. “And despite the bad news for North Carolina as a whole, our ranking at No. 5 among states for visitation is a position of strength for rebuilding our tourism economy. Given the state’s resilience and vast appeal of its natural beauty, our creative cities and our authentic experiences at every turn, we’re confident that we’ll regain what has been lost and exceed the spending records of the recent past.”
Warren County has seen an increase in visitor spending every year since 2016.
Statewide highlights include:
• Domestic and international travelers spent $19.96 billion in North Carolina in 2020. The spending marks a 32 percent decrease from the $29.22 billion spent in 2019.
• Fourteen of the state’s 100 counties saw gains in visitor spending: Warren, Greene, Yancey, Clay, Stokes, Polk, Northampton, Pender, Ashe, Alleghany, Rutherford, Jones, Currituck and Tyrrell.
• Visitors to North Carolina generated nearly $3 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2020. The total represents a 26.6 percent decrease from 2019.
• Twenty counties had increases in employment related to visitor spending in 2020: Warren, Greene, Clay, Stokes, Ashe, Yancey, Alleghany, Pender, Macon, Northampton, Jones, Polk, Rutherford, Montgomery, Tyrrell, Dare, Carteret, Madison, Currituck and Swain.
• Direct tourism payroll decreased 24.5 percent to $6.4 billion.
• Visitors spend more than $54 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds $4.9 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $2.4 million in state taxes and $2.5 million in local taxes).
• Each North Carolina resident saves on average $170 in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state.
• North Carolina hosted 37 million visitors in 2020.