At the beginning of this year, the Sampson County Convention and Visitors Bureau announced the launch of its website, to coincide with the distribution of its first visitors guide across the county and state. With guides out, a website up and running and a tourism coordinator dedicated to the cause, feedback is coming in regularly — and numbers are up.
Statistics show a boost in tourism revenue in Sampson County, according to numbers released by the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development and shared by Sampson CVB tourism coordinator Vickie Crane this week.
Those stats compiled by the state reveal that domestic visitors to and within Sampson County spent $40.53 million in 2010, an increase of 3.95 percent from 2009, an upward trend also seen in the local occupancy tax that helps fuel the CVB’s efforts. The figures were reported to the Sampson County Board of Commissioners earlier this month.
“The 2010-2011 Sampson County Convention and Visitors Bureau annual report presented to the Sampson County Board of Commissioners showed a 4 percent increase from last year in occupancy tax from local lodging providers,” said Crane.
Among the tourism impact highlights for 2010, state officials noted that the travel and tourism industry directly employees more than 270 jobs in Sampson County, with the payroll generated by the tourism industry in Sampson tallying $5.24 million. State and local tax revenues from travel to Sampson totaled $3.79 million, representing a $59.70 tax savings to each county resident, according to the “2010 Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties” prepared for the state division by the U.S. Travel Association.
The numbers for Sampson were calculated using a formula called the Travel Economic Impact Model, in which tourism and travel is defined as activities associated with all overnight and day trips to places 50 miles or more, one way, from the traveler’s origin and any overnight trips away from home in paid accommodations.
In the model, the economic impact is represented by measures of spending, employment, payroll, business receipts and tax revenues generated by traveler spending. Those travel expenditures are assumed to take place whenever travelers exchange money for activities considered part of their trips. Travel-generated payroll includes all forms of compensation, such as salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, vacation allowances, sick leave pay and the value of payments in kind paid during the year to all employees working for providing products and services to travelers.
Gov. Beverly Perdue announced in March that visitors to North Carolina spent a record $17 billion in 2010, an increase of 9 percent from the $15.6 billion in 2009. Statewide, the travel and tourism industry directly employees more than 183,000 North Carolinians and generated nearly $1.5 billion in tax revenues.
That number includes state tax revenue totaling $946 million through state sales and excise taxes, as well as taxes on personal and corporate income; and $544 million in local taxes generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.
As they are around the state, Crane said things are similarly “looking up” in Sampson County on the tourism front.
“Things are looking up… and as the CVB Board of Directors continues to implement our marketing and strategic plan to promote Sampson County, hopefully the stats will be even higher for the next fiscal year,” Crane said. “In 2010, Sampson County ranked 60 in travel impact among North Carolina’s 100 counties.”
Crane said tools the board has worked to develop since it started will continue to be developed and utilized in an effort to continue to bring people — and revenue — to Sampson County.
The development of the website, www.visitsampsonnc.com, was a step in putting Sampson County on the regional travel and tourism map. The 28-page Sampson County Visitors Guide was disseminated around the county and delivered to all nine North Carolina welcome centers located along the state’s borders.
Tourism board members have touted the website, guide and Crane herself with being essential to marketing Sampson. For those coming into the county wondering what to do, they immediately have three resources: Crane and the CVB office within the civic center, as well as two very tangible items announcing Sampson as a tourism entity in the visitors guide and website.
Crane said the website and guide have helped the CVB achieve its goals to increase consumer awareness and inquiries, as well as county visitation, tax revenues and the number of jobs able to be supported by tourism. That effort is ongoing.
“The county has several great tourism attractions to promote in the categories of agri-tourism, arts and theatre, historic sites and museums and festivals and events,” said Crane. “It’s the mission of the Sampson County Convention and Visitors Bureau to increase visitors through regional, state and national advertising, marketing and promotion.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.