Polk visitor spending up by 6.5 percent

Published 10:05 am Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spending by visitors to Polk County increased 6.5 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development.
This meant $20.26 million in spending – the highest impact for the county since tracking began in 1991, said Melinda Young of Polk County Travel & Tourism.
“We had a huge jump in 2007 and we really haven’t lost much of that momentum,” Young said. “Polk County saw its impact from tourism jump as much as 11.5 percent in 2002, with tax revenues of $15.12 million. By 2007, that number had grown to $19.6 percent.”
How are these figures calculated? A Travel Economic Impact Model or TEIM is used to study the impact of tourism on an area by focusing on the state sales and excise taxes and taxes on personal income from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.
This means the study looks at tax receipts in 16 categories from retail, which includes sporting goods stores, jewelry stores and pharmacies to automobile transportation, which can include gas stations, rental cars and even tire stores.
Young said because of the current economic state many people have taken to day trips, traveling from 50 miles or more away. This, in particular, benefits retail, restaurants, gas and entertainment attractions.
A total of $1.13 million was generated in Polk County through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. Approximately $1.21 million in local taxes were generated from travel-related sales and property tax revenue.
While in total tourism revenue Polk County ranked 81st statewide, it ranked 53rd in percentage of increase for the year. Young said the important thing for residents to understand is the impact tourism has on the county.
The tax funds collected funnel back into the state and local general funds, representing a $113.66 tax saving to each county resident, Young said. The study does not include occupancy tax numbers, which are also directed back to the local entity.
Data from the study also shows the tourism industry creates more than 170 jobs in Polk County; a total generated payroll of $2.91 million.
Gov. Beverly Perdue announced in March that visitors to North Carolina spent a record $17 billion in 2010, an increase of 9 percent from 2009.

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