Surry County tourism showed another year of growth according to data recently released by the state.
The North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development announced that visitor spending in the county totaled $116.62 million in 2015, an increase of 2.8 percent compared to the previous year.
“We’re really excited about the positive data,” said Jessica Icenhour Roberts, director of marketing. “The goal of our local tourism efforts in Surry County and Mount Airy is to bring in more visitors annually who will spend more money and stay longer in our region.”
Statewide tourism growth averaged about 3 percent, with 91 counties and in all economic development regions demonstrating an increase.
The $116.62 million in spending places Surry County at a rank of 38 out of the 100 counties in the state.
“For a county our size, in terms of our budget, that’s incredible,” Roberts said.
“Looking at growth at the long term standpoint, we’ve doubled,” the marketing director said, noting that visitors spent about $66 million in 2004.
“We have seen steady growth, especially in the five years since the recession.”
Other highlights of the report include:
• Visitor spending created a tax relief for residents of about $254 per household.
• The travel and tourism industry directly employs about 810 individuals in the county.
• The total payroll generated by the industry in 2015 was $17.24 million.
• State tax revenue generated in Surry County totaled $6.51 million, while about $2.5 million in local taxes were generated by sales and property tax revenue from travel generated and supported businesses.
“Tourism generates substantial economic benefits in Mount Airy and Surry County as visitors come and stay overnight in our lodging facilities, shop while they are visiting, buy gas and leave a positive effect on several industries in the county,” Roberts said. “The tourism industry is critical to our local economy because the industry brings in those necessary outside dollars.”
Roberts said data showing positive growth helps market the local attractions in other areas of the state and defend its value to sometimes skeptical locals.
“People argue that tourism is low paying jobs in the county,” she said. “The data shows tourism supports all different types of salaries. That really benefits the county.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.