2022 Tourism Economic Impact for Catawba County 

County Spending Increases by 13.5 Percent to $331.48 million​

Fairfield HotelHICKORY N.C. — Domestic and international visitors to and within Catawba County spent $331.48 million in 2022, an increase of 13.5 percent from 2021. The data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“Visitor spending in 2022 was a record year in Catawba County, which confirms the importance of tourism and the value it adds to our community,” said Hickory Metro Convention Center & Visitors Bureau CEO Mandy Pitts Hildebrand. “Hickory, along with communities within the county have flourished due to public and private investments that are not only beneficial to residents, but also to visitors. New outdoor trails, entertainment venues, and restaurants are bringing more visitors and business travel is returning. Sports and leisure tourism is also on the rise.”

Tourism impact highlights for 2022:

• The travel and tourism industry directly employs more than 2,400 in Catawba County.

• Total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Catawba County was $85.2 million.

• State tax revenue generated in Catawba County totaled $13.3 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. About $11.3 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.

• Tax savings per resident in Catawba County is $151.57 due to visitor spending.

“The 2,400 people in the travel and tourism industry in Catawba County are extremely important and there will be a need for more hospitality employees in the future as we see growth in our community,” said Hildebrand. “Tourism partners throughout the county from the arts to sports to hotels to the culinary industry work well together and that’s the key component of our success.”

These statistics come from the “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2022,” 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.

Statewide, visitor spending in 2022 rose 15.2 percent to reach a record $33.3 billion. Direct tourism employment increased by 9.8 percent to 216,900.

“North Carolina’s tourism industry draws its success from the authentic culture and experiences that flourish across a spectrum of settings,” said Wit Tuttell, Visit NC’s executive director. “The new report from Tourism Economics shows growth beyond our celebrated mountains and beaches to our urban centers and surrounding suburban and rural counties. Tourism’s strength across the state underscores the industry’s role as an anchor of economic development. The money visitors spend benefits everyone by sustaining jobs and reducing the tax burden for every resident.”

Family Walking in Downtown Newton

Highlights from the statewide report include:

Total spending by domestic and international visitors in North Carolina reached $33.3 billion in 2022. That sum represents a 15.2 percent increase over 2021 expenditures. The figure falls 14 percent above the record $29.22 billion spent in 2019.

• Domestic travelers spent a record $32.4 billion in 2022. Spending was up 13.4 percent from $28.6 billion in 2021.

• International travelers spent $910 million in 2022, up 170 percent from the previous year.

• Visitors to North Carolina generated $4.2 billion in federal, state, and local taxes in 2022. The total represents a 7.9 percent increase from 2020.

• State tax receipts from visitor spending rose 6.5 percent to nearly $1.3 billion in 2022.

• Local tax receipts grew 3.5 percent to nearly $1.2 billion.

• Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased 9.8 percent to 216,900.

• Direct tourism payroll increased 13.5 percent to $8.7 billion.

• Visitors spend more than $91 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds $6.7 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $3.5 million in state taxes and $3.2 million in local taxes).

• Each North Carolina household saved $512 on average in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state. Savings per capita averaged $230.

• North Carolina hosted approximately 43 million visitors in 2022.

“Positive momentum in the travel and tourism industry continues in 2023 within the county due to many projects including the addition and renovation of the Hickory Metro Convention Center, hotel renovations, new lodging accommodations in Downtown Hickory, and an increase of restaurants opening this year,” added Hildebrand.

For more information about Visit Hickory Metro go to www.VisitHickoryMetro.com and to learn more about Visit NC go to www.VisitNC.com.