Economic Impact Studies

Visit North Carolina evaluates the economic impact of travel and tourism in North Carolina at two different levels: Direct Travel Economic Impact and TSA methodology. See below for details on both methods.

Direct Travel Economic Impact

The first level, narrow in scope, calculates the impact based on visitor expenditures using the Travel Economic Impact methodology. On an annual basis, Tourism Economics prepares direct visitor spending estimates for all 100 North Carolina counties, as well as county level employment, payroll and tax revenues as a result of direct visitor spending.

While statewide economic impact data for the prior year is released each spring of the following year (see further below for 2019), county-level statistics are not released until late summer/early fall.

  • Travel Economic Impact Methodology
  • To use this information in a press release or reference it, the official name of the study is “The Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties” and the credit line should read: “This study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by Tourism Economics.”

    Watch: Tourism’s Economic Impact on NC with Visit NC and Tourism Economics

    Speakers from Visit NC and Tourism Economics review new models for estimating annual county visitor spending impact (originally streamed October 12, 2021).

    More Visit NC Webinars

    Total Economic Impact of Tourism

    The second level, broad in scope, uses an official international standard that considers the contribution travel and tourism make to overall income, employment, gross state product, government tax revenues and other measures, using the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA).

    Developed by the World Tourism Organization and ratified by the United Nations in 2000, the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) is the official international standard for measuring the economic contribution of tourism. This methodology is distinct from conventional economic impact analysis for several reasons:

    • Allows for true comparisons of tourism to other industries since the measures are consistent
    • Provides full detail of economic contribution by industry, showing the composition of tourism and how non-tourism industries benefit from tourism activity
    • Includes all spending both by and on behalf of travelers, providing a complete picture of the demand and thus the supply related to tourism in the state
    • Acts as a national benchmark and proves credibility since even the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis utilizes this standard

    2019 Tourism Satellite Account