Despite HB2, Wake sees record-breaking visitors, tourism growth

Posted July 17

— Wake County welcomed an all-time high number of 15.6 million visitors last year, according to the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The 15.6 million visitors who traveled to Wake County in 2016 spent $2.4 billion, officials said, which is an increase of 4.2 percent from 2015.

The number is the highest the GRCVB has ever reported, despite House Bill 2, a state law that required people to use public bathrooms that match their birth gender and excluded gay and transgender people from discrimination protections.

Numerous concerts and conventions were canceled in the Raleigh area following the March 2016 passage of the controversial law. State lawmakers repealed the law this spring.

"Despite growing competition in the marketplace, Raleigh and Wake County continue to rise as a destination of choice amongst visitors,” said Denny Edwards, president and CEO of the GRCVB. “Every sector of the hospitality community from our hotels and restaurants, attractions and retail stores benefit from the influx of outside money being spent in our area by visitors annually.”

GRCVB independently contracted with two travel and tourism research organizations to estimate key tourism statistics. The numbers show that Wake County set records across the board in 2016, including an average hotel occupancy rate of 70.1 percent (a slight year-over-year increase of 0.2 percent) and a 4.5 percent year-over-year increase in area hotels' average daily rate (to $100.85). Lodging tax collections totaled $24.2 million, up 8.4 percent year-over-year, and prepared food and beverage collections rose 6.5 percent in 2016, amounting to $26.9 million.

In 2016, 25,535 local jobs were sustained directly by visitation to the Raleigh area.


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  • Robert Swiger Sr. Jul 17, 8:26 p.m.
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    See all tha scare tactics by the Liberals and fake news by the N& O and others did not work

  • Matt Page Jul 17, 6:49 p.m.
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    Could have been more without the cancellation of 24 conference center events and multiple concerts

  • Teddy Fowler Jul 17, 4:36 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    great spin.... but it's not working.... it was always spun by the liberals as a BIG loss of money for North Carolina... BIG BIG BIG.... not so much eh?

  • Jeffrey Derry Jul 17, 4:31 p.m.
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    That's because HB2 was a non issue promoted only by the #fakemedia

  • Jim Halbert Jul 17, 4:04 p.m.
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    So somehow the argument over HB2 has been rewritten as an economic issue today, and the fact that the economy of NC didn't crash means that liberals somehow "lost".

    Take it from me, a liberal, HB2 was never about the economy. Liberal hearts bleed not for dollars but for human souls. HB2 was a moral issue. Liberals were against it because it hurt LGBTs. Business leaders and celebrities boycotted the state by canceling events and business opportunities not in an attempt to somehow destroy the NC economy, but as a form of protest against something they were morally against. As was there right. No liberal is somehow disappointed today that the NC tourism economy is still doing fine. I think it's great. Citizens, business leaders, celebrities all protested and made their voices heard in the strongest ways possible, enacted real change with the election of Roy Cooper, and no one, including the state, got hurt. Best possible outcome.

  • Wayne R. Douglas Jul 17, 3:01 p.m.
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    But, but, but.......

  • Jeff Smith Jul 17, 1:45 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

  • Steven Brown Jul 17, 1:29 p.m.
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    Wait, I thought it was supposed to cost the state losses in the 100's of millions...

  • William Willets Jul 17, 12:58 p.m.
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    Last year? Well before the elections? Interesting ....

  • Jeff Smith Jul 17, 12:31 p.m.
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    This was just a typical liberal media, hysteria, falsification of the HB2 law anyway. Even as HB2 was in full affect, NC, especially Raleigh, was exploding in growth and tourism. Now that the goal of ousting McCroy has been accomplished, the liberals want to make it seem it is due to Cooper and the compromise on HB2. So continue to listen to the media. I hear the kool-aid is really good ! LOL