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Discover Durham Releases 2018 Visitor Spending and Economic Impact Numbers

Visitor Spending and Volume Continue to Increase in Durham, N.C. Year Over

(DURHAM, N.C.) December 18, 2019 – Following the completion of an economic research study, Discover Durham is pleased to announce that visitors who came to Durham in 2018 spent $881 million, a 6.7% increase over 2017. Additionally, 12.2 million visitors came to Durham in 2018, a 3.4% increase over 2017. Discover Durham, previously known as the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, is the tourism development authority charged with driving economic development through tourism in Durham.

“Since the Great Recession we’ve seen steady year over year increases in visitor volume and spending on lodging, meals, entertainment, shopping and transportation. The increase in visitors from 2017 to 2018 significantly outpaced the national average, a true credit to Durham’s vibrancy, growth and hospitality,” said Susan Amey, Discover Durham president and CEO. “Visitor spending continues to fuel local business creating and sustaining jobs, expanding our tax base, and supporting the quality of life for everyone.”

The economic impact of visitors and visitor spending in Durham County is estimated based on survey research conducted by Longwoods International, a national consumer research firm, and Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company. Visitors are defined as those who come to Durham for purposes other than school or work, including day and overnight visitors, whose trips deviate from their normal routine. An overview of the Longwoods International and Tourism Economics reports are as follows:

• 12.2 million visitors came to Durham County in 2018, a 3.4% increase over 2017
o 7.3 million, or 70.4% of the total, came to Durham for the day
o 4.9 million, or 29.6%, were overnight visitors
o 90.3% of all visitors came for leisure purposes
o 9.7% came for business purposes

• Durham visitors spent $881 million, a 6.7% increase over 2017, translating to more than $2.2 million in spending every day
o $273 million was spent on food and beverages (30.9%)
o $222 million was spent on lodging (25.1%)
o $176 million was spent in retail establishments (19.9%)
o $116 million was spent on local transportation (13.2%)
o $94 million was spent on recreation and entertainment (10.7%)

• Visitors generated $175.9 million in tax revenues
o $51.5 million in tax revenue for local governments
o $49.6 million in state tax revenue
o $74.8 million in federal tax revenue
o Without visitors, each household would need to contribute an additional $836 annually to maintain the current level of public services provided by state and local governments

• Including direct, indirect and induced impacts*, 12,320 jobs were sustained by visitors to Durham accounting for $378.9 million in labor income (compensation)
o Approximately 4.6% (1 in 19) of all jobs in Durham County were sustained by tourism
o Employment in the tourism sector has grown 15.5% since 2013
o Tourism supports 32% of recreation employment and 29% of food and beverage employment

Of the 12.2 million visitors, most traveled to Durham from North Carolina, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and South Carolina, and stayed for an average of 2.5 nights. While in Durham, the most popular activities reported by visitors were shopping, fine dining, visiting museums and entertainment, such as one-of-a-kind performances at DPAC, the largest performing arts venue in the state.

Further findings from the Discover Durham Longwoods report can be found in this executive summary and the Discover Durham 2018-19 annual report.

DPAC, Durham Performing Arts Center Economic Impact Results
The 2018—2019 season at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) generated a total economic impact of more than $127 million, an increase of 15 percent over 2017—2018, as calculated in Discover Durham’s annual study. In its eleventh season under the direction of Nederlander and Professional Facilities Management (PFM), the theater held 240 events and sold out 163 performances, the venue’s best number of sellouts ever for a single season. DPAC also experienced record-breaking attendance levels with an average of 2,249 guests attending each performance.

“Every season we attract hundreds of thousands of guests to Durham to see our shows, including direct from Broadway blockbusters plus a wide variety of concerts, comedy and special events,” Bob Klaus, general manager of DPAC, said. “Three out of every four DPAC guests come from outside Durham, which creates an incredible boost to the local economy. We are glad to play a part in Durham’s continued renaissance and vitally and continue to take pride in being known as the center for live entertainment throughout the region.”

*The total impact of tourism includes measurement of direct visitor spending, indirect impacts, and induced impacts. Direct visitor spending includes money paid directly for visitor-related goods and services, such as lodging, recreation, and transportation. Indirect benefits accrue to those suppliers that provide goods and services as inputs into those businesses, such as food wholesalers, utilities, and financial or legal services. Induced benefits are generated when employees of those organizations, whose incomes are driven directly or indirectly by tourism, spend a portion of their income in the local economy.

About Discover Durham:
Discover Durham tells Durham, North Carolina’s story to attract visitors and drive economic progress. As Durham’s official tourism marketing and sales agency, it promotes the strategic economic and cultural development of Durham as a visitor destination. Discover Durham markets the community to millions of people each year, helping new and returning guests get off the beaten path and experience something new. Discover Durham also operates the Durham Sports Commission, which drives sports tourism in Durham. Discover Durham’s work helps fuel sales at local businesses, creates jobs, generates tax revenues, and enhances quality of life for our residents. For more information about Durham, visit www.discoverdurham.com, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Media Contact:

Margaret Pentrack