news7The Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau booked more than 23,500 room nights at area hotels with a direct economic impact of $8.1 million in the fiscal year that ended July 31. In what amounts to an annual report, the FACVB also says the indirect rollover impact on our economy was $20.3 million. The direct economic impact is figured by the number of attendees of the groups booked by FACVB, multiplied by overnights and then by $114, explained FACVB spokeswoman Melody Foote. The $114 is the average nightly rate. “The rollover impact is the direct impact times 2.5 since the money turns over in the community 2.5 times,” Foote added. The figures “don’t include any leisure travelers or day trippers that come here,” Foote said.

All convention and visitors’ bureaus are not-for-profit organizations primarily funded by local governments, usually through a portion of hotel occupancy taxes. An overnight visitor to Cumberland County pays a 6 percent occupancy tax and 6.75 percent sales tax. Occupancy tax revenue is divided three ways -- 1.5 percent to arts (Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County), 1.5 percent in support of the Crown Center Complex and 3 percent to the Tourism Development Authority.  According to the NC Department of Commerce, in Fiscal Year 2012 Cumberland County occupancy tax collections reached just over $5 million. Of that amount $3.6 million went to the TDA. It funds the FACVB, whose mission is to promote the long-term development and marketing of Cumberland County as a destination, focusing on convention sales, tourism and service. And, of course, the agency directly supports the hospitality industry, which generates the tax revenue. 

The FACVB secured 3,754 listings for Cumberland County events in local, regional and travel trade websites and print publications. It handled 14,047 visitor inquiries at its three visitor centers. “In the last year, we added several touch points to our data collection to get a better understanding of visitors and their interests,” said John Meroski, FACVB president and CEO. The visitor profile indicated that 23 percent of them were from North Carolina. Seven percent each visited here from New York and Florida, while 5 percent were from Virginia. As would be expected, 25 percent of visitors were visiting family and friends, many of them military. Seventeen percent were vacationers and 12 percent were here on business. Cumberland County has the eighth highest level of travel expenditures of North Carolinas 100 counties. Visitors’ top destinations included Fort Bragg, local museums, historic sites and dining. 

Cumberland County has 72 hotels, motels and extended stay properties with 5,942 rooms. Currently, the county sees 160,000 overnight visitors per month. Rates for nightly stays vary from day to day. They range from $50 a night at older motels along U.S. 301 S, to $198 for two-room suites at Embassy Suites and Residence Inn. In 2012, the Fayetteville Regional Chamber stated that leisure and hospitality is Cumberland County’s fourth largest industry.  

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