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High Country Host: Tourism Spending Up Four Percent in 2011 in Watauga at over $197M; Good for 19th in State

Press release from North Carolina High Country Host:

North Carolina High Country Host is pleased to release the 2011 economic impact figures, showing an increase in tourism revenues during the past year. It is encouraging to see that 2011 tourism figures for each county showed positive growth. While still enjoying a successful summer season, we will now turn out focus to marketing the upcoming leaf season, choose and cut Christmas trees, skiing and an ever increasing range of outdoor recreational opportunities. The High Country is a four-season destination and will continue welcoming visitors to our beautiful area in all seasons for the year.

When you review the attached chart of county revenues, you will see that tourism is a very important part of the High Country’s economic development. When you further analyze the numbers, you will see that tourism revenues represent a nice local and state tax savings for each High Country resident.

High Country Host members have benefitted from increased marketing exposure in leading magazines such as Good Housekeeping,  Air Tran, Our State, Blue Ridge Country, Charlotte Parent, WNC Magazine and most recently a beautiful color spread in in US Air Magazine. A number of beautiful billboards on major highways across the state entice residents and travelers to come up and enjoy the natural, scenic beauty of the High Country. Additionally, High Country Host members have hosted Familiarization Tours with AAA, Farm  to Table Tours, and sponsored Media Tours to television and radio stations, and newspapers throughout North and South Carolina.

Who is the High Country visitor?  Two recent studies have shown comparable demographic profiles:

  • Respondents to the surveys are predominately female
  • The median age of our visitors range between 55 – 64 years of age
  • There are two people in the household
  • 75 percent have no children living in the household
  • Average family income ranges from $50,000 – $74,000 plus
  • Most visitors come from North Carolina, followed by Florida with border states coming in next; 30 percent represented other states  
  • Charlotte, Greensboro-High Point, and Raleigh-Durham are our largest markets
  • Average length of stay was two nights
  • Majority of visitors had visited previously
  • The top three areas of interest were: Blue Ridge Parkway/Natural Scenic Beauty, Shopping, Arts and Crafts

It should be noted that each of the surveys were conducted during summer months, other studies in a different seasons may have generated different data.

The mission of High Country Host is to market the region to bring visitors to our area and then direct them to our member businesses. The organization was established cooperatively in 1980 to pool advertising dollars to market the region and to stimulate the economy of our beautiful mountain counties. High Country Host members benefit from increased marketing throughout the year by participating in co-op ads in a number of major magazines; television and radio ads; billboards; web sites; social media; media tours; FAM tours and public relations.

The Host works cooperatively with the North Carolina Department of Tourism Film and Sports Development to leverage marketing dollars and buying power to reduce the cost of advertising and marketing for our members.

High Country Host operates the Visitor Information Center located at 1700 Blowing Rock Road in Boone. Hours of operations are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sundays.                           

High Country Economic Impact Statistics – 2011

North Carolina High Country Host 




% Change







Tax Savings



NC Counties



+ 4.36 %



$2.52 Million





$45.34 M

+5.48  %



$4.84 Million





$98.38 M




$9.55 Million





$20.48 M




$1.81 Million









$18.16 Million





$62.33 M

+7.9 %



$4.65 Million





TOTAL  $445.71M           +6.44%         $86.02         4,660         $40.99         $1,489.19