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Domestic and international visitors to and within Halifax County spent $85.9 million in 2020, a decrease of 23.2 percent from 2019. 

The data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“Understanding that the state average tourism spending was down we are gratified that Halifax County fared better than the average,” said Lori Medlin president & CEO of the Halifax County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We want to thank all the employees in the tourism industry in our county that worked on the front lines through the pandemic to keep our businesses open.  Even with a worldwide pandemic throughout the year visitors spent over $18 million in our hotels and over $30 million in our restaurants.”

Medlin presented the report to the Halifax County Board of Commissioners Monday and Roanoke Rapids City Council Wednesday. 

In Roanoke Rapids, the HCVB supports operations of the Roanoke Canal Museum as well as maintenance of the canal trail and the canal trail half-marathon and 5K.

The dollars also support youth sports including events at Ledgerwood Field and Chockoyotte Park.

The bureau was instrumental in its support of the tennis court project at T.J. Davis, lighting at exit 173, and last year’s inaugural Joy in the Park Christmas event at Centennial Park.

Tourism impact highlights for 2020

The travel and tourism industry directly and indirectly employees more than 593 people in Halifax County.  

Total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Halifax County was $21.2 million.

State tax revenue generated in Halifax County totaled $4.1 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. 

About $3.2 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.

These statistics come from the Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2020, which can be accessed at partners.visitnc.com/economic-impact-studies

The study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by Tourism Economics in collaboration with the U.S. Travel Association.

Statewide, visitor spending was down 32 percent to $19.96 billion compared to 2019. Tourism employment fell 26 percent to 178,685. The losses were most acutely felt in urban areas. 

“We are extremely gratified that tourism thrived in 20 counties in the face of pandemic shutdowns and other impediments to travel,” said Visit NC Director Wit Tuttell. “And despite the bad news for North Carolina as a whole, our ranking at number 5 among states for visitation is a position of strength for rebuilding our tourism economy. Given the state’s resilience and vast appeal of its natural beauty, our creative cities and our authentic experiences at every turn, we’re confident that we’ll regain what has been lost and exceed the spending records of the recent past.”

Statewide highlights 

Domestic and international travelers spent $19.96 billion in North Carolina in 2020. The spending marks a 32 percent decrease from the $29.22 billion spent in 2019. 

Visitors to North Carolina generated nearly $3.0 billion in federal, state, and local taxes in 2020. The total represents a 26.6 percent decrease from 2019. 

State tax receipts as a result of domestic visitor spending decreased 26.4 percent to more than $891.6 million in 2020.

Local tax receipts from domestic visitor spending dropped 21 percent to $906.4 million.

Direct tourism employment in North Carolina decreased 26 percent to 178,685. 

Direct tourism payroll decreased 24.5 percent to $6.4 billion. 

Visitors spend more than $54 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds $4.9 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $2.4 million in state taxes and $2.5 million in local taxes). 

Each North Carolina resident saves on average $170 in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state.  

North Carolina hosted 37 million visitors in 2020.