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Surry tourism spending rises 7%

Out-of-state vehicles and unfamiliar faces seem to be more plentiful in this area recently, an observation backed up by a report released Thursday.

It shows domestic and international visitors to and within Mount Airy/Surry County spent $147.04 million during 2022, based on data from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina. It a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, with the study prepared in collaboration with the U.S. Travel Association.

That $147 million total is an increase of 7.3% from 2021 tourism spending locally, which is viewed as a sign that this segment of the economy is alive and well after a challenging period.

“The tourism industry in Surry County has completely rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 with leisure and recreational travelers leading the way in our area,” local official Jessica Roberts declared Thursday when reacting to the new report.

Back to pre-pandemic levels?

The pandemic recovery is seen in raw numbers, with last year’s tourism spending locally of $147 million exceeding that of 2019 — before the coronavirus took hold — when $137.79 million was logged.

When inflation is factored, the $137,790,000 spent in 2019 equals $162,779,8045 this year, according to one calculation tool.

Yet last year’s $147 million is viewed as a solid sign.

“These latest numbers released from Visit North Carolina demonstrate the significance of tourism as a strong economic driver and contributor to the local economy,” added Roberts, executive director of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and Tourism Partnership of Surry County.

The value to the community is manifested in the providing of jobs, substantial tax revenue and profits for businesses, according to Roberts.

“Tourism is the fertilizer to economic development and is critical to our local economy because the industry brings in those necessary outside dollars to be spent in Surry County.”

Among the tourism impact highlights for 2022:

• The travel and tourism industry directly employed more than 904 people in Surry;

• The total payroll generated by tourism in the county was $36.02 million;

• About $4.3 million in local taxes were generated through sales and property tax revenues from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.

The new report shows that because of the visitors coming into the area, each resident in Surry County benefited from $145.26 in savings where taxes are concerned, Roberts pointed out regarding their impact.

She says the local tourism infrastructure is bolstered by a variety of lodging options, authentic and well-known local restaurants, breweries, wineries, wedding venues, festivals, downtown shopping venues and recreational opportunities that provide “a wonderful opportunity” for getting away.

A breakdown shows the local lodging impact from the tourism and hospitality industry as $32.82 million, and $48.75 million for the food and beverage segment. Recreation was impacted to the tune of $15.07 million; the retail sector, $11.80 million; and transportation; $37.91 million.



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