2021 Visitor Impact for Surry County, North Carolina

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County Spending Increases by 45.4% Percent to $136.99 million

Mount Airy, N.C. — Domestic and international visitors to and within Surry County spent $136.99 million in 2021, an increase of 45.4% from 2020. The data comes from an annual study commissioned by Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“These latest numbers released from Visit North Carolina demonstrate the importance of tourism as a strong economic driver and contributor to the local economy by providing jobs, tax revenue & receipts to Surry County. The ultimate goal of our tourism efforts in Surry County and Mount Airy is to bring in more visitors annually who will spend more money and stay longer in our region including new and repeat visitors. The tourism industry is critical to our local economy because the industry brings in those necessary outside dollars to be spent in Surry County and also creates tourism tax relief saving each household in North Carolina $580 on average in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state and savings per capita averaged $222. In the last few years Mount Airy and Surry County have seen additional lodging opportunities being offered through various online booking companies like Airbnb & VRBO and many of those opening in our various downtown areas throughout Surry County and also in and around the Vineyards in the Yadkin Valley. Our new Andy Griffith Mural project in partnership with Mount Airy Downtown Inc. & the City of Mount Airy by the artist Jeks has brought in new visitors and those returning who are loyal to our various Mayberry Attractions.  During the pandemic we have also seen various renovations at local establishments throughout the County and additional wineries opening with more to open in the future!”

Jessica Icenhour Roberts, Executive Director of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and Tourism Partnership of Surry County.

Tourism impact highlights for 2021

  • The travel and tourism industry directly employees more than 854 in Surry County, NC.
  • Total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Surry County was $31.7 million.
  • State tax revenue generated in Surry County totaled $6.0 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. About $4.4 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.

These statistics come from the “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2021,” which can be accessed at partners.visitnc.com/economic-impact-studies. The study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by Tourism Economics in collaboration with the U.S. Travel Association.

Statewide, visitor spending in 2021 rebounded by 44.9 percent to reach $28.9 billion. Following the devastating pandemic-related losses of the 2020, the total fell just short of the record $29.22 spent in 2019. Direct tourism employment increased 10.5 percent to 197,500.

“These findings are something that everyone in North Carolina can celebrate,” said Visit NC Director Wit Tuttell. “They’re a testament to the resilience of our businesses and our residents, and to the enduring appeal of destinations that include everything a traveler might want. The economic well-being of the state and all its communities rises with the pleasures travelers find in the natural beauty of our public spaces, our culinary traditions and innovation, our remarkable towns and our spirited cities. North Carolina can claim it all.”

Statewide highlights include:

  • Total spending by domestic and international visitors in North Carolina reached $28.9 billion in 2021.That sum represents a 44.9 percent increase over 2020 expenditures. The figure falls 1 percent below the record $29.22 billion spent in 2019.
  • Domestic travelers spent a record $28.6 billion in 2021. Spending was up 45.2 percent from $19.7 billion in 2020.
  • International travelers spent $337 million in 2021, up 25.6 percent from the previous year.
  • Visitors to North Carolina generated $3.9 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2021. The total represents a 29 percent increase from 2020.
  • State tax receipts from visitor spending rose 34 percent to nearly $1.2 billion in 2021.
  • Local tax receipts grew 26 percent to $1.1 billion.
  • Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased 10.5 percent to 197,500.
  • Direct tourism payroll increased 18.9 percent to $7.7 billion.
  • Visitors spent more than $79 million per day in North Carolina. That spending added $6.4 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $3.3 million in state taxes and $3.1 million in local taxes).
  • Each North Carolina household saved $580 on average in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state. Savings per capita averaged $222.
  • North Carolina hosted nearly 45 million visitors in 2021.



Jessica Icenhour Roberts, Executive Director of Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority & Tourism Partnership of Surry County

200 North Main Street, Mount Airy NC 27030

[email protected]

(336) 786-6116 Ext. 207