From a tourist’s pocket to yours

Published 9:11 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2012

No one would really argue that a flagging economy over the past four years has put a damper on employment and spending. But there’s one local industry that has not wavered in the current recession — it has, in fact, grown — and that’s tourism.
Yesterday, the North Carolina Department of Commerce released the latest tourism numbers, broken down on a county-by-county basis. What those numbers tell us is how much impact domestic tourism has on the local economy and it turns out, it’s a lot.
In 2010, $66.97 million tourism dollars were spent here in Beaufort County. In 2011, that number jumped five percent to $70.36 million, putting Beaufort County in the top half of North Carolina’s 100 counties when it comes to tourism dollars earned.
Big numbers like that can be difficult to transpose into real-life impact. Luckily, the study by the U.S. Travel Association, entitled “The Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties” breaks it down for us.
The $70.36 million, straight from our visitors’ pockets, has: 1) sustained more than 440 Beaufort County jobs directly related to travel and tourism; 2) generated an $8.85 million payroll in 2011; and 3) created state and local tax revenues of $7.8 million.
But what does that mean for you personally? It means you didn’t pay an additional  $163.55 in taxes last year, according to the report. Every resident of Beaufort County saved $163.55 because of our many visitors in 2011.
Perhaps next time around, when a person feels the need to gripe about too many bicycles on the road during Cycle N.C. or complain about traffic when the Washington Summer Festival rolls into town, they’ll remember that number: $163.55.
Hopefully, next year it will be more.