WCU Hospitality and Tourism Program students analyze impact of tourism on local economies

A key feature of an outdoor tourism conference hosted by Western Carolina University on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee was the presentation of customized tourism economic fact sheets.

Students in a senior-level course taught by Steve Morse, director of WCU’s Hospitality and Tourism Program, provided attendees fact sheets containing detailed information to illustrate the regional impact of spending by tourists and travelers on the tax base and job creation in counties ranging from Alleghany in the High Country of the northwestern mountains through Cleveland in the foothills to Cherokee in the southwestern corner of the state.

The students utilized county data for 2015 from the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development. Their analysis showed tourist spending in the 26 counties of Western North Carolina was $3.34 billion, a 3.5 percent increase over the previous year, and generated 31,540 jobs that netted $672 million in income and worker paychecks. Highlights from the individual counties are:

  • Alleghany – Generated $22.48 million in direct tourist spending; produced $4.13 million in worker income; generated $2.57 million in combined state and local taxes; created 180 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $315.
  • Ashe – Generated $51.59 million in direct tourist spending; produced $7.76 million in worker income; generated $5.44 million in combined state and local taxes; created 400 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $310.
  • Avery – Generated $113.61 million in direct tourist spending; produced $26.32 million in worker income; generated $10.68 million in combined state and local taxes; created 1,225 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $760.
  • Buncombe – Generated $1.0 billion in direct tourist spending; produced $221.68 million in worker income; generated $83.40 million in combined state and local taxes; created 10,640 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $715.
  • Burke – Generated $94 million in direct tourist spending; produced $13.95 million in worker income; generated $7.84 million in combined state and local taxes; created 700 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $193.
  • Caldwell – Generated $51.16 million in direct tourist spending; produced $7.87 million in worker income; generated $4.38 million in combined state and local taxes; created 350 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $116.
  • Cherokee – Generated $42.44 million in direct tourist spending; produced $6.58 million in worker income; generated $4.38 million in combined state and local taxes; created 340 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $246.
  • Clay – Generated $12.60 million in direct tourist spending; produced $1.41 million in worker income; generated $1.91 million in combined state and local taxes; created 60 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $263.
  • Cleveland – Generated $101.10 million in direct tourist spending; produced $14.92 million in worker income; generated $7.77 million in combined state and local taxes; created 680 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $179.
  • Graham – Generated $25.40 million in direct tourist spending; produced $4.49 million in worker income; generated $2.90 million in combined state and local taxes; created 250 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $488.
  • Haywood – Generated $167.56 million in direct tourist spending; produced $35.76 million in worker income; generated $15.53 million in combined state and local taxes; created 1,710 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $442.
  • Henderson – Generated $257.95 million in direct tourist spending; produced $46.85 million in worker income; generated $22.73 million in combined state and local taxes; created 2,200 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $408.
  • Jackson – Generated $175.92 million in direct tourist spending; produced $41.43 million in worker income; generated $17.83 million in combined state and local taxes; created 1,710 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $667.
  • Macon – Generated $154.23 million in direct tourist spending; produced $27.28 million in worker income; generated $19.17 million in combined state and local taxes; created 1,260 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $755.
  • Madison – Generated $35.85 million in direct tourist spending; produced $7.12 million in worker income; generated $3.48 million in combined state and local taxes; created 330 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $325.
  • McDowell – Generated $54.30 million in direct tourist spending; produced $8.31 million in worker income; generated $4.83 million in combined state and local taxes; created 420 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $230.
  • Mitchell – Generated $22.10 million in direct tourist spending; produced $3.44 million in worker income; generated $1.93 million in combined state and local taxes; created 160 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $220.
  • Polk – Generated $26.76 million in direct tourist spending; produced $3.92 million in worker income; generated $2.92 million in combined state and local taxes; created 200 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $254.
  • Rutherford – Generated $164.10 million in direct tourist spending; produced $23.81 million in worker income; generated $14.81 million in combined state and local taxes; created 1,220 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $436.
  • Surry – Generated $116.62 million in direct tourist spending; produced $17.24 million in worker income; generated $9 million in combined state and local taxes; created 810 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $268.
  • Swain – Generated $193.21 million in direct tourist spending; produced $56.02 million in worker income; generated $16.33 million in combined state and local taxes; created 2,130 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $1,852.
  • Transylvania – Generated $88.86 million in direct tourist spending; produced $16.47 million in worker income; generated $7.51 million in combined state and local taxes; created 770 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $387.
  • Watauga – Generated $231.44 million in direct tourist spending; produced $52.24 million in worker income; generated $20.64 million in combined state and local taxes; created 2,640 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $623.
  • Wilkes – Generated $72.19 million in direct tourist spending; produced $10.83 million in worker income; generated $5.31 million in combined state and local taxes; created 540 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $160.
  • Yadkin – Generated $36.16 million in direct tourist spending; produced $6.36 million in worker income; generated $2.83 million in combined state and local taxes; created 350 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $164.
  • Yancey – Generated $34.73 million in direct tourist spending; produced $5.76 million in worker income; generated $3.99 million in combined state and local taxes; created 240 jobs; and reduced the average household local and state tax bill by $360.

For more information and a copy of complete county-specific fact sheets, contact Morse at 828-227-3386 or email scmorse@wcu.edu.