Tourism spending in Forsyth County reached $950.6 million during 2018, setting a record for an eighth consecutive year.
The spending data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of N.C.
The 5.8% increase was generated even though 2018 being an off year for the biennial Black Theatre Festival.
Forsyth typically attracts about 1.8 million visitors a year, according to Visit Winston-Salem.
Forsyth remained sixth in tourism spending, trailing Mecklenburg ($5.68 billion, up 5.6%), Wake ($2.4 billion, up 6%), Guilford ($1.49 billion, up 5.6%), Dare ($1.19 billion, up 4.7%) and Buncombe ($1.21 billion, up 6.5%).
“The consistent increases in visitors and their spending packs a powerful and positive two-fold economic punch for Winston-Salem,” said Richard Geiger, president of Visit Winston-Salem.
“The study confirms that tourism continues to produce immediate and long-term economic benefits for Winston-Salem. Convention business was up in 2018, and the hosting of the NCAA Tennis Championship drew an extra 2,400-plus room nights."
Geiger said the county also benefited from hotels gaining increased bookings, along with charging higher room rates.
The local tourism industry was estimated to have 7,280 workers, up 80 from 2017.
Tourism spending generated $73.3 million in local and state tax receipts, up 4.9%.
The county travel economic impact statistics are prepared annually by the Research Department of the U.S. Travel Association for Visit N.C.
“Because each of our attractions tracks their attendance in a variety of ways, it’s pretty much impossible to compare and quantify what attraction tops the other,” Visit Winston-Salem said.
“Based on a series of visitor research we’ve conducted over the last six years, our downtown scene and vibe continues to be the top attraction across all market segments, especially meeting and conventions, corporate and leisure.
“Old Salem Museum and Gardens, Reynolda House and Tanglewood Park during the annual holiday Festival of Lights generate a high number of visitors.”
Other typical high-volume events include the annual River Run International Film Festival.
Visitors spent $25.3 billion statewide in 2018, up 5.6%. State tax receipts from visitor spending were $1.28 billion, up 4.6%.