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Tourism Impacts Everyone in the High Country

May 10, 2012. May marks the traditional beginning of tourism season. Visitors and seasonal residents are arriving daily to enjoy cooler temperatures, special events, recreational activities and to dine on local fare. But what does their arrival mean to the locals? Plenty!

The week of May 7-13 is designated as North Carolina‚Äôs Tourism Week with Wednesday, May 16 being North Carolina Tourism Day. This is a week set aside to celebrate an industry that was North Carolina’s fourth largest private employer in 2010*. While recovery from the recession has been slow, 2010 was only 2% off North Carolina’s peak tourism spending year of 2008*. Preliminary research indicates that 2011 will show another increase.

On a more local level, almost 2,400* jobs in Watauga County are directly attributable to travel and tourism. These jobs are in lodging establishments, attractions, outdoor recreation, restaurants, gas stations, and retail, but tourism’s impact for all residents is much greater.

For each dollar a visitor spends in a community, it will be spent several times over in the destination community for payroll, office supplies, purchasing groceries or filling up with gas before that dollar leaves for another community. Perhaps more importantly, these visitors who come to enjoy local hospitality saved each Watauga County resident over $355* in taxes during 2010, according to The Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties. This study was prepared for the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film, and Sports Development by the US Travel Association.

Tourism directly or indirectly affects all sectors of the High Country economy, and it is an important part of the area’s diversity. For more information about tourism and its impacts, contact High Country Host, 1700 Blowing Rock Road, Boone, NC, 828-264-1299.