Spending sees growth rate of more than 51% from 2020

Chapel Hill, NC - (August 17, 2022)— Domestic and international visitors to and within Orange County spent $194.81 million in 2021, an increase of 51.7% from 2020. The data comes from an annual study commissioned and released today by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

"These findings are something to celebrate as our industry continues to recover from COVID-19. As travel has started to come back, we know that people really want to be in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough with an increase in leisure travel, visiting friends and family, weddings, reunions and travel to the University of North Carolina," said Mark Bell, who serves as Town of Hillsborough Commissioner and chair of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau Advisory Board.

“The business and conference sector will be the last to recover but thanks to the people and leaders in Orange County, we are considered a safe, smart and beautiful place to visit. Our county has seen several hotels introduce wonderful new renovations and we have welcomed new restaurants, bars and other visitor attractions,” added Bell.

Tourism impact highlights for 2021 for Orange County

• Domestic and international visitors spending totaled $194.81 up from $128.4 million in 2020. Visitors spending represents a tax savings of $100.83 per county resident.
• The travel and tourism industry directly employs 1,514.
• Total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Orange County was $53.4 million.
• State tax revenue generated in Orange County totaled $8.3 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. About $6.9 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel- supported businesses. This total of $15.2 million is up from $11.6 million in state and local tax revenue generated in 2020. 

These statistics come from the “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2021,” which can be accessed at partners.visitnc.com/economic-impact-studies. The study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by Tourism Economics in collaboration with the U.S. Travel Association. Tourism Economics measures visitor spending in lodging, food and beverage, recreation, retail and transportation as well as labor income and tax revenues.

Statewide, visitor spending was up 44.9 percent to $28.9 billion compared to 2020. Tourism employment increased 10.5 percent to 197,500. 


About the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau
As the official accredited destination marketing organization of Chapel Hill and Orange County, the mission of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau is to develop and coordinate visitor services in Orange County and to implement marketing programs that will enhance the economic activity and quality of life in the community. The Visitors Bureau is a department of Orange County, NC Government. For information: www.VisitChapelHill.org.

Header photo is Franklin Motors Beer Garden which opened at 601 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill  in October 2021 by SP Murray. Link for Hi res image