Visitors spent $109 million in city last year

Aug. 13, 2013 @ 03:49 PM

Visitors to Union County spent $108.62 million last year, which is a 7.3 percent increase from 2011.

The new estimates were announced by the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development Monday. 

“Monroe and Union County is quickly becoming not only a year-round regional destination for the film industry, but we are also becoming known for our attractions and events,” Monroe Communications and Tourism Officer Pete Hovanec said in a statement. “Having destinations like Treehouse Vineyards, Aw Shucks Farm, JAARS along with events like the Warbirds Over Monroe Air Show and the Steeplechase, Union County has become a great domestic draw for visitors.”

Recently, television shows “Banshee” and “Homeland” were filmed in parts of Union County, along with films and commercials. The film industry contributes through employment, hotel stays and purchasing.

A new Holiday Inn Express along Highway 74 is scheduled to open after the first of the year. It will be the ninth hotel in the City of Monroe and the second “interior entrance” hotel, Hovanec said. An interior entrance hotel is one where the guests must enter through the lobby and the rooms are only accessible from inside the building.

“More and more families want that,” Hovanec said.

The Center Theatre in Downtown Monroe could also potentially be a draw for resident and visitors alike.

“The tourism group met last Thursday and we actually passed a budget amendment...to purchase the Center Theatre in Downtown Monroe,” Hovanec said. 

The Tourism committee is allowed to purchase items through capital funds and city council must approve the purchase. The purchase will be on next week’s city council agenda. A private organization is gearing up to raise funds to renovate the theater.

“It’s going to take a while because it’s going to take millions,” Hovanec said.

The theatre is one of a few coming projects for the city and county.

“We’re real excited about the numbers and there’s a lot of stuff brewing on the horizon that could really contribute to the City and the county’s tax base,” Hovanec said.

Union County’s increase in visitor spending was the fourth highest increase in the state at 7.3 percent.

The travel and tourism industry directly employees more than 890 people in Union County, generating a payroll of about $16.29 million, according to a statement from the City.

State tax revenue generated in Union County totaled $5.88 million through state sales and excise taxes and taxes on personal and corporate income. Approximately $1.94 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses.

“When you look at the county as a whole, you see great equine destinations, wonderful educational destinations in Wingate University and South Piedmont Community College, quality hotel accommodations, cutting edge medical options, and unmatched athletic facilities in Carolina Courts and the Extreme Ice Center,” Hovanec said in a statement. “With all these in Union County, it is not surprising to see our numbers near the top in the state.”