Tourism is big business in North Carolina. In 2000, an estimated 43 million people visited the Old North State. Approximately nine million visitors are greeted each year in North Carolina’s eight welcome centers. In 2010, domestic travelers spent a record 17 billion dollars across the state making tourism the second largest industry in North Carolina and employing nearly 200,000 residents. North Carolina ranked 7th in direct domestic travel volume among all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2011. Forty-two percent of person-trips were spent in a hotel/motel or bed & breakfast while 49 percent were spent in a private home.
The top 10 Designated Market Areas of origin for travelers to North Carolina make up 55 percent of all North Carolina visitors. In the top five are Raleigh-Durham/Fayetteville (14.1 percent), Charlotte (12.0 percent), Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem (7.8 percent), Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville (5.1 percent), and Atlanta (3.5 percent). This begins to show trends in population shifts within the state, in addition to large numbers of visitors from Virginia (7.5 percent), South Carolina (7.2 percent), Georgia (5.6 percent), Florida (5.0 percent), and Tennessee (3.6 percent).
According to North Carolina Division of Tourism, annual attendance records from 2011 for visitor centers located at I-95 South, I-95 North, I-85 South, I-85 North, I-40 West, I-26, I-77 South, and I-77 North, the largest numbers of visitors enter North Carolina in June, July, and August. The largest number of visitors in 2011 entered via I-95 and I-40. This demonstrates that population tends to shift into higher hazard areas during periods of higher seasonal vulnerability—in this case, hurricane season. Unfortunately, information on attendance at specific, major tourist attractions across the state was not available for the 2013 update.
Another seasonal indicator is seasonally vacant housing (Figure 8-7). The top three counties in terms of number of seasonally vacant houses, assumed to be summer homes, are Brunswick, Dare, and Carteret. All of these counties have been designated under at least one of the three most recent declared disasters to affect the state (Tropical Storm Nicole (2010), Severe Weather and Tornadoes of April 2011, and Hurricane Irene (2011)).
Several counties in western North Carolina also have high numbers of seasonally occupied homes, including Macon, Jackson, Avery, and Watauga. Many of these are likely to be summer or winter homes, with Macon and Jackson County receiving a surge of part-time residents from Atlanta, Georgia during summer months. This suggests an in-flux of population that is potentially vulnerable to summer flooding.
Figure 8-7. Seasonal Housing Unit Counts by County (Census, 2010)
Figure 8-8 from the previous version of the plan was removed from this update. That figured showed data on the estimated number of people in seasonal housing units. This information was determined to show more or less the same pattern as simply showing the seasonal housing units and was therefore removed as extraneous.
Table 8-5 shows the housing units by occupancy class by county in both 2000 and 2010. Table 8-6 shows the housing unit change by county between 2000 and 2010. Between 2000 and 2010, some of the means of breaking down the data changed such that the data provided for each of these years is not exactly the same. There were 2 main differences in how the data was categorized between 2000 and 2010: 1) The “Mobile Homes & Trailers” category from 2000 was removed in 2010 and so data from 2000 in the following tables was edited to remove that category in order to maintain consistency and provide a more accurate analysis. 2) In 2010, the “Seasonal” category is an informational category in that it is classified as a sub-category of the “Owner-Occupied” category. That is to say, the number of “Seasonal” homes is included in the count for “Owner Occupied” homes and thus counting it in the “Total” category would amount to double-counting. In short, only 3 categories are summed to get the “Total” housing units category: “Vacant”, “Renter Occupied”, and “Owner Occupied.” The “Seasonal” classification is included to provide additional information and consistency between plan updates. Macon (159.67%), Union (59.47%), Brunswick (50.65%), Hoke (45.48%), and Wake (43.59%), and had the greatest increase in the number of housing units.
Table 8.5 Housing Units By County