Wilmington, NC: Domestic visitors to and within New Hanover County spent a record $658.78 million in 2019, an increase of 7.5 percent from 2018. New Hanover County ranks 8th in visitor spending among North Carolina’s 100 counties, second only to Dare among coastal counties. The data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“We are pleased to report that tourism spending and direct tourism employment for New Hanover County increased in 2019, representing our ninth consecutive record-breaking year. Countywide room occupancy tax collections also set another record with $15.52 million dollars in total collections for calendar year 2019, representing a 9.11% increase over 2018,” states Kim Hufham, president/CEO of the New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority. “When visitor spending is strong, tourism and hospitality businesses thrive. While we are mindful that these numbers represent a pre-COVID economy, the 2019 visitor impact illuminates the importance of travel and tourism to our community, especially in terms of jobs, small businesses, economic growth and quality of place. The more visitors spend, the more our community benefits through job creation and a strong tax base that helps fund beach renourishment, the Wilmington Convention Center, and other tourism-related projects. Additionally, travel-generated state and local tax revenues offset the tax burden of local citizens.”

Tourism impact highlights for 2019:

  • The travel and tourism industry directly employed more than 6,680 people in New Hanover County. 
  • Total payroll generated by the tourism industry in New Hanover County was $158.15 million.
  • State tax revenue generated in New Hanover County totaled $31.56 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. About $26.35 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.
  • Travel-generated state and local tax revenues saved each New Hanover County resident an estimated $245.85.

Statewide, visitors to North Carolina set a record for spending in 2019. The $26.7 billion in total spending represented an increase of 5.6 percent from 2018.

These statistics are from the “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2019,” which can be accessed at partners.visitnc.com/economic-impact-studies. The study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by the U.S. Travel Association.

“The numbers confirm the strength of North Carolina’s tourism industry as an anchor of economic development,” said Wit Tuttell, director of Visit North Carolina. “As the No. 6 state in the country for overnight visitation, we can attribute our success to the natural beauty and authenticity that visitors experience, and to a passionate effort to inform and inspire travelers. The money they spend benefits everyone by sustaining jobs and reducing our residents’ tax burden.”

The New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority (TDA), d/b/a Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau, markets and develops the county and its communities’ leisure and group travel experiences for economic growth and quality of place.


Connie Nelson
Wilmington CVB
910-341-4030 x120