08/16/09 — Travel spending increases in Wayne County

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Travel spending increases in Wayne County

By Laura Collins
Published in News on August 16, 2009 2:00 AM

Travel and visitor spending in Wayne County and surrounding counties saw an increase in 2008.

Wayne County brought in about $120.26 million in visitor spending in 2008, an increase of about 6.4 percent from 2007.

Betsy Rosemann, director of travel and tourism for the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, said the travel spending has helped resident taxpayers. She estimates about a $79 savings per citizen of Wayne County.

"It's a nice savings. If this money wasn't generated, taxpayers would be coming up with this money," she said.

While the troubled economy has been known to cause problems, it has benefited travel and tourism in the area.

"The economy has helped because people are more reluctant to travel, so they are having to discover places in their own backyard," she said. "We've had a tremendous amount of family reunions. With the economy, people are choosing family reunions over vacations."

Rosemann added that several locations and events have also contributed to the increase. Last year, the Pickle Festival brought about 30,000 people to the area. Swim meets at the YMCA, golf tournaments, Civil War reenactments and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base also contributed.

About one-third of the travel to the area is business related, Rosemann said.

"Cherry Research Farm brings in a lot of professors and groups that come in to study, research and follow research being done at Cherry Research Farm," she said.

To help encourage people to come to the county, the chamber markets the area in a variety of venues including radio, TV, billboards, and national publications like Southern Living, Where to Retire, Our State and four different Civil War magazines.

In surrounding counties, tourists spent $34.26 million in Duplin, an increase of 2.9 percent; $4.74 million in Greene, an increase of 6 percent; $179.26 million in Johnston, an increase of 2.9 percent; $43.01 million in Sampson, an increase of 0.2 percent; and $89.84 in Wilson, an increase of 3.3 percent.