Jackson County, NC Sees Record Visitor Spending in 2021

Visitor Spending Increased by 49.5 Percent to $437.41 Million

JACKSON COUNTY, N.C(August 18, 2022) — Ideally situated in Western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Jackson County today announced that 2021 visitor spending set records. Domestic and international visitors to and within Jackson County spent $437.41 million last year, an increase of $145 million from 2020. The data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“I am thrilled to see the growth in our destination and the positive economic impact visitors are making by putting people to work, supporting community small businesses by depositing $1.19 million in local cash registers daily,” said Nick Breedlove, Director of the Jackson County TDA. “While seeing an increase in visitors, we are prioritizing sustainability and stewardship to ensure our greatest natural assets are protected for years to come.”

Tourism impact highlights for 2021

  • The travel and tourism industry directly employs more than 2,300 in Jackson County.
  • Total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Jackson County was $110.4 million.
  • State tax revenue generated in Jackson County totaled $15.6 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. About $15 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.
  • Residents save $723.41 annually on taxes due to visitor spending.

These statistics come from the “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2021,” 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.

“The Jackson County Tourism Development Authority’s primary goal is to increase the economic impact of the hospitality and visitor industry by attracting travelers to our community, and we wouldn’t be successful without our amazing partners – the lodging, restaurants, retail stores, and attractions that make our destination so desirable for new and repeat visitors,” Breedlove continued.

Made up of the distinctive towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva, Jackson County is known for shopping, dining, culture, and charming locales. The destination has welcomed several new businesses and renovated lodging in the past year, including ILDA — EATER Carolina’s pick for Mountain Restaurant of the Year for 2021 – Hotel Cashiers and The Wells Cashiers, to name a few. Visitors also enjoy the natural beauty with miles of hiking trails and waterfalls as well as the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway.

Statewide, visitor spending in 2021 rebounded by 44.9 percent to reach $28.9 billion. Following the devastating pandemic-related losses of 2020, the total fell just short of the record $29.22 spent in 2019. Direct tourism employment increased 10.5 percent to 197,500.

“These findings are something that everyone in North Carolina can celebrate,” said Visit NC Director Wit Tuttell. “They’re a testament to the resilience of our businesses and our residents, and to the enduring appeal of destinations that include everything a traveler might want. The economic well-being of the state and all its communities rises with the pleasures travelers find in the natural beauty of our public spaces, our culinary traditions and innovation, our remarkable towns and our spirited cities. North Carolina can claim it all.”

Statewide highlights include:

  • Total spending by domestic and international visitors in North Carolina reached $28.9 billion in 2021.That sum represents a 44.9 percent increase over 2020 expenditures. The figure falls 1 percent below the record $29.22 billion spent in 2019.
  • Domestic travelers spent a record $28.6 billion in 2021. Spending was up 45.2 percent from $19.7 billion in 2020.
  • International travelers spent $337 million in 2021, up 25.6 percent from the previous year.
  • Visitors to North Carolina generated $3.9 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2021. The total represents a 29 percent increase from 2020.
  • State tax receipts from visitor spending rose 34 percent to nearly $1.2 billion in 2021.
  • Local tax receipts grew 26 percent to $1.1 billion.
  • Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased 10.5 percent to 197,500.
  • Direct tourism payroll increased 18.9 percent to $7.7 billion.
  • Visitors spent more than $79 million per day in North Carolina. That spending added $6.4 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $3.3 million in state taxes and $3.1 million in local taxes).
  • Each North Carolina household saved $580 on average in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state. Savings per capita averaged $222.
  • North Carolina hosted nearly 45 million visitors in 2021.

For questions, please contact JCTDA Executive Director Nick Breedlove by email at Director@DiscoverJacksonNC.com or by telephone at 828-339-1160.


Media Contacts:

Carter Long // Anne Bernard




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