Tourism spending approaches $120 million

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Wilson County saw a 3.38 percent increase in tourism expenditures last year when compared to 2016, with visitor spending increasing to $119.6 million in 2017.

“Our collaborative efforts have proven Wilson is truly a more attractive destination,” Wilson Visitors Center Executive Director Sandra Homes said, noting increased collaboration between her organization and tourism partners in the community. “Visitors to our community are overwhelmed with our museums, gardens, sporting venues, festivals, preservation efforts, the active artists role and the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park since opening has seen a large volume of additional visitors to Wilson. We have fabulous restaurants and wonderful hotel rooms.

“We are proud of our small-town charm, diverse economy, historic downtown and all of the citizens who live, work and play here.”

The study prepared for Visit NC by the U.S. Travel Association revealed Wilson saw a 2.03 percent increase in travel employment, a 2.59 percent increase in state tax receipts and a 4.84 percent increase in local tax receipts in 2017 compared to 2016. Across North Carolina’s 100 counties, the state saw a 2.73 percent increase in travel employment, 3.4 percent increase in state tax receipts and a 5.59 percent increase in local tax receipts between the two years.

Homes said an occupancy tax increase from 3 percent to 6 percent in Wilson County that the General Assembly passed in 2016 has helped to fund improvements that benefit residents and visitors alike, such as upgrades to Gillette Athletic Complex.

“The importance of the additional increase in the occupancy tax will offer more marketing initiatives and more product development for the Wilson community,” Homes said. “The increase will be used for more advertising opportunities and get the visitors engaged in doing more while visiting Wilson, which will keep them longer in our hotels.”

Homes and Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Executive Director Jeff Bell recently gave updated information to the call center at the women’s correctional facility in Raleigh, which handles calls to 1-800-VISITNC from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Homes brought updated event information, promotional items and brochures, along with lunch from Parker’s Barbecue, to cement Wilson in call center representatives’ minds.

Bell also gave a presentation about the variety of events the park has hosted since opening in late 2017.

Homes said the increased investment in Wilson recreation opportunities through the occupancy tax and increased awareness about all Wilson has to offer benefits everyone.

“These assets, marketed together, can result in more extended stays in our hotels, resulting in an excellent return on the investment,” she said.
For more information about upcoming events and activities, visit http://wilson-nc.com/.