NC ranks as 6th most-visited state in the country

The Wright Bros. monument on the Outer Banks. Photo from NC Tourism Dept.

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — The numbers are in.  North Carolina is ranked the 6th most visited state in the country according to recently released statistics from 2014 by the U.S. Travel Association.

New residents to the Tar Heel state said there are a lot of things to draw people in.

“The beach, the Outer Banks, the golf seems to be a major pull from that area,” said Andrew Williams.  He moved to NC two months ago from Oregon.  “It’s just a lot of stuff to do outside; the mountains, lots of hiking.”

Tourism experts said they want the numbers to keep growing.

“The state is up 5.5% and set a record of 21.1 billion in spending,” said Executive Director with Visit NC, Wit Tuttell.  “What I think is really important is that almost every county in the state saw an increase and every region in the state saw an increase. So what’s really good for us is that we see that tourism is a benefit to counties throughout the state.”

Wake County is no exception to the growth in visitors.

“It’s becoming a hot destination for families, for millennials, and even for the seniors now,” said President and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, Dennis Edwards.  “We’ve got something for everyone.”

That variety is also good for the local economy.  Edwards said there are more than 24,000 people employed in the tourism sector of Wake County alone.

“We had, last year over 14.4  million visitors that came in to the Wake County area that spent 2.2 billion dollars in direct expenditures that equates to 219 million dollars in state and local sales tax revenue as well,” he said.  “So, it definitely had a significant impact on the area as well.”

With the numbers that are coming in now, Tuttell and Edwards said North Carolina is well on its way to setting records for 2015.

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