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Fast Facts [PDF]

Tourism-related facts from the Travel Industry Association (TIA) and the NC Department of Commerce.

Recently Announced Travel Trends 


Wine Marketing Campaign - North Carolina is among the top 10 states for wine production with more than 100 wineries, and has been recognized as one of the top five culinary tourism states. The campaign's goals are to increase visitation and spending at NC wineries; broaden awareness and credibility both in-state and nationally for NC wines; deliver downstream referrals from the NC Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development websites to individual NC winery sites to spark interest and visitation; and help increase demand for NC wines beyond wineries as a result of growing visitation. (visitncnewslink, June 13, 2012)

Grandfather Mountain becomes first NC Green Travel-certified attraction - Grandfather Mountain, located in Linville, qualified for recognition through the program because of its green practices, which include 1) Generating its own green power through an array of photovoltaic cells. 2) Using solar thermal panels so that the water and supply radiant heat in Grandfather's Fudge Shop. 3) Using 100% compostable and biodegradable plates, cups, forks, spoons, knives and take-out containers in its Nature Museum Restaurant. (visitncnewslink, May 30, 2012)

Restaurants Finding Great Value in Social Media-- When people are trying to decide where to go for a meal, coffee or drinks, increasingly they are likely to base their decisions on what they find on Facebook, in an email or text blast, at a website, or from a photo on Flickr. As social media permeate the business world, restaurants can use no- or low-cost online networks such as website, e-mails or text messages as vehicles for promotion, in many cases outpacing the use of conventional marketing. This trend benefits customers in many ways, giving them more information, access, and, to a certain extent, power. Restaurants can use the tools of Facebook business page to post material typically found at a restaurant website, such as menus, events and hours of operation. At the same time, the page functions as a forum for updates and conversation.

Hotel Lobbies Become Multi-Use Spaces– As hotels transform their once-sterile lobbies into multi-use spaces, they’re hoping people will eat, drink, work, socialize – or all of the above – within the renovated areas. Some business travelers are taking advantage of the space for business meetings, noting meeting in hotel rooms or a restaurant can be awkward, so this is more comfortable. The investment, so far, is paying off: As revenues from in-room amenities such as pay-per-view movies and telephones dry up, hotels are reporting higher food and beverage sales in their public spaces. Expect hotel lobbies to continue to evolve for a hipper, more technologically savvy crowd.

Last month, Hilton Worldwide announced that through LightStay, its sustainability management platform, all of the company’s 3,750 plus hotel would have an automated process to give donations to charities.  Hilton Worldwide also announced its partnership with the Global Soap Project.  These two efforts by Hilton Worldwide are only two small examples of the many ways that the tourism industry actively participates in charitable giving.  Almost every national brand and industry leader has a corporate social responsibility program in place, be it the Biltmore Company, Marriott, Vail Resorts,or the Walt Disney Company.  A new twist on giving is the number of tourism-related organizations that are providing volunteer and giving opportunities to their guests and clients. Organizations like Visit Raleigh work to connect visitors to volunteer opportunities in the community.  For more information on volunteer tourism, visit the Travelers’ Philanthropy.  For more information about sustainability in tourism, contact Tom Rhodes at the N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach, or contact Alex Naar at (252) 737-1346.

WSJ: BILTMORE IS ‘KING OF THE CASTLES’ - In a Dec. 3 article titled “King of the Castles,” The Wall Street Journal featured Biltmore in Asheville, stating “From the first, improbable view of Biltmore, looming over a vast lawn and framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains, we know we are in the realm of fantasy.” The WSJ also included Biltmore in its “Holiday Inns,” an article suggesting places other than the traditional “home” to spend the holidays.

Parks Embracing Cellphones-- Once reviled by park rangers as an unfortunate distraction, lately cellphones are being embraced by national, state and local parks as a way to educate a more connected public. Cellphone hiking tours are also popping up in parks run by the National Park Service as well as other more regional nature preserves. State parks in North Carolina have a downloadable Pocket Ranger Mobile Tour Guide for Apple iPod and iPhone and Adroid smartphones that allows visitors to plan and explore state parks with details readily at hand about park locations, trails, facilities, reservations, events and special news alerts. (May, 2011)

As Vacation Rentals Gain Popularity, Online Sites Increase Listings - Vacation rentals, once an ugly duckling of the travel industry, are getting their turn at the spotlight with more vacations exploring renting homes, investors are pouring money into online portals that match-make homeowners with travelers struck with hotel fatigue. Aimed largely at families who want to stretch out with a spacious living room and kitchen, vacations rentals--which include privately owned homes and condos, and unoccupied timeshares - has been a fragmented market that's been growing even as it's been slow to turn to the Internet for sales. (May, 2011)

Amex Survey Predicts Increase in Holiday Travel Spending– Forty-two percent of Americans plan to increase their holiday travel budget compared to last year, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. No matter where consumers choose to go, there is a clear interest in getting more out of travel, according to the study. From dining to adventure, it’s all about making memories. More consumers also plan to dine out (31 percent versus 20 percent in 2010) and take part in entertainment-focused activities (24 percent versus 20 percent in 2010). Twenty-one percent are taking a longer trip, 19 percent are staying in better accommodations and 17 percent are traveling with more people. Twelve percent are choosing a more-expensive destination and 6 percent are flying first or business class.

North Carolina Green Travel Initiative (October, 2011) NEW WEBSITE
If you own or manage a lodging, restaurant, park, entertainment or other travel-related business, the NC GreenTravel website will provide you with information to help you become more competitive in the green travel arena. Whether your facility is in the mountains, the piedmont or the coastal area of North Carolina, you can go green and save green!

North Carolina's Newest YouTube Video which highlights tourism in North Carolina. Visit to enjoy! (April, 2011)

Americans Planning More Vacations, Spending (February 2011)
Despite high unemployment and a slow economic recovery, more people are planning to travel this year and they expect to spend more money than they did in 2010, according to a new report. Thirty-five percent of 1,403 consumers surveyed by travel website said they will increase their travel in 2011, and only one percent said they do not plan to go anywhere, compared to four percent last year. More than a quarter of people said they would spend $2,000 or more on their holidays this year, up from 20 percent in 2010. While roughly half expect to keep their travel budget largely unchanged from last year, 37 percent said they will dig deeper into their pockets in 2011.  To find out more, visit

Conventions Go to Smaller Cities (February 2011)
So-called second-tier convention cities are getting a better look from meeting planners. As companies and associations slowly raise budgets for meetings and conventions, they're giving greater consideration to smaller and less-expensive cities that they once might have bypassed for more glamorous locales. "A lot of second-tier cities have been very aggressive in site-inspection (trips), promotions and financial offerings," says Kevin Iwamoto of StarCite, which connects meeting planners and sellers. Incentive meetings are also making a comeback, often away from Las Vegas, Chicago or Orlando. To find out more, visit

Solid Recovery Seen for Carolina’s Tourism in ‘11 (January 2011)
An Associated Press article reported that despite a shaky economy and the specter of higher gas prices, tourism is expected to continue its solid improvement this year in the Carolinas, where it means almost $39 billion to the two states' economies. In North Carolina, occupancy rates at hotels and motels were up 7 percent statewide through November, compared to the same period in 2009, said Margo Metzger. “Things are really looking up for tourism.” Airport arrivals and departures were up 13 percent in October in North Carolina. To find out more, visit  

NC’s 100th Winery (January 2011)
Cauble Creek Vineyards in Salisbury, NC celebrated being NC’s 100th winery on Thursday, January 27, 2011.  Governor Beverly Perdue and others came out to help celebrate NC’s growing wine business!  NC ranks 7th in the nation for wine production and 10th in grape production. 

Orbitz Reveals Most-Searched Hotel Amenities of 2010 (January 2011)
Online travel agency crunched its search data from 2010 to shed some light on what are the most-searched hotel amenities. The results from its analysis, Orbitz says, should tell a bit about what will drive booking decisions in 2011. Online travel sites increasingly let travel shoppers filter potential hotels by the type of amenity they offer, in addition to basics such as specific hotel name, location, rate and some sort of quality rating. Orbitz shoppers searched most for free parking/airport shuttle, swimming pool, pets welcome and spa/fitness center. To find out more, visit; to see the full results, visit

Youth Matters: the Most Neglected Travel Market (November 2010)
One can measure the importance of the youth travel market in numbers or in its changing makeup but it’s perhaps best viewed in its immense potential to a wide spectrum across the travel market. The youth market is a $136 billion worldwide enterprise. Young travelers are usually defined as aged 16 to 29. In some surveys, that market has grown faster than most other travel segments. Studies show that young travelers spend more than those in other travel sectors, spend four times longer traveling to a destination than the average visitor, spending$2600 per trip, and have a higher lifetime value than other travel sectors because the backpackers and students of today are tomorrow’s honeymooners, family, business and leisure travelers. To find out more, visit

Travelhorizons Survey Reveals How Travelers Use Social Media (January 2010)
The results of the most recent travelhorizons survey reveal how new forms of social media have influenced consumer choice when it comes to evaluating and purchasing travel services. According to the nationally representative survey of just over 2,200 U.S. adults, co-authored every 90 days by Partnership and the U.S. Travel Association with the latest conducted in October 2009, almost six out of 10 (59 percent) of active travelers have visited a social networking site. Their most popular activities while on these sites include uploading photos/videos (49 percent) and rating products or services (46 percent).Roughly one-quarter have visited a chat room and/or posted content to a blog. Nearly half (46 percent) check new postings to their site(s) at least once a day.
To find out more, visit

Amex Survey Finds Consumers Still Plan On Traveling (January 2010)
The "American Express Spending & Saving Tracker," the fifth in a monthly series, found that this year consumers are most focused on their financial well-being, and are approaching the year with an optimistic but prudent financial outlook. Travel tops the list of pursuits consumers rank most valuable to their livelihood and well-being with 72%, ahead of home entertaining with friends or family (66%), and dining out (60%). The survey found that 31% of the general population plans to take a vacation between now and the end of March and more so among affluents (51%) and young professionals (54%). Among all those scheduling a winter vacation, an average of two trips is planned. 
To find out more, visit

UNWTO Survey Sees Tourism on Track for a Rebound (January 2010)
Growth returned to international tourism in the last quarter of 2009 contributing to better than expected full-year results, according to the latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Prospects have also improved with arrivals now forecast to grow between 3 percent and 4 percent in 2010.  To read the complete news story, visit

Landmark Study Reveals ROI of Business Travel (September 2009)
New research conducted by global research firm Oxford Economics establishes the first clear link between business travel and business growth as American businesses are planning their 2010 budgets and federal policy makers are looking to stimulate the American economy. For every dollar invested in business travel, businesses experience an average $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits, according to the study. 

Past Decade Saw Strong Growth for NC Wine Industry
Recently, the N.C. Wine & Grape Council offered a look back at a few of the highlights from the prosperous decade of the 2000s:

  • N.C. wineries more than quadrupled in growth from 21 in 2000 to 89 in 2009
  • Three appellations were established in N.C., starting with Yadkin Valley AVA in 2003, Swan Creek AVA in 2008, and Haw River Valley AVA in 2009
  • N.C. wine production climbed from off the charts in 2000 to now rank 8th in the U.S. in 2009
  • Grape production in N.C. jumped from ranking 12th in the U.S. in 2000 to 9th in 2009
  • Grape bearing acres in N.C. grew from 600 in 2000 to 1,700 in 2009
  • Biltmore Winery became the most visited winery in the U.S.
  • Duplin Winery became the largest Muscadine wine producer in the U.S.

To find out more about the N.C. Wine & Grape Council, including to sign-up for its consumer e-newsletter, "Uncorked," click here.

*Several of the Travel Trends stories were taken from the NC Division of Tourism, Film & Sports Development weekly NewsLink e-publication.  If you would like to receive NewsLink, visit

Survey: Associations Incorporating Social Media into Events (November 3, 2009)

Driving Itineraries Growing in Popularity and Number (September 10, 2009)

NC Division Seeking Information for Thematic Trails

2009 NC Division of Tourism Mid-Year Marketing Update (September 22, 2009)

USTOA Survey Shows Encouraging Tour Trends (May 27, 2009)

Harris Poll Finds Americans Still Plan to Vacation But Spend Less (May 20, 2009)

American Express Survey Reports Top Summer Travel Trends (May 19, 2009) 

Summer Leisure Travel Expected to be Stable (May 14, 2009)

Golf Contributes $5.3B To North Carolina Economy (May 14, 2009)

2009 Trip Advisor Trends (October 1, 2008)

TIA's Travel Trends from A-Z

US Department of Commerce International Travel Trends Year-to-Date (January 2008)

Randall Travel Marketing 2009 Travel and Tourism Trends Update

Randall Travel Marketing Top 10 Travel and Tourism Trends 2008-2009 (July 23, 2008)

Randall Travel Marketing Top 10 Travel and Tourism Trends 2007-2008

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