A key feature of an outdoor tourism conference hosted by Western Carolina University on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee was the presentation of customized tourism economic fact sheets.

Students in a senior-level course taught by Steve Morse, director of WCU’s Hospitality and Tourism Program, provided attendees fact sheets containing detailed information to illustrate the regional impact of spending by tourists and travelers on the tax base and job creation in counties ranging from Alleghany in the High Country of the northwestern mountains through Cleveland in the foothills to Cherokee in the southwestern corner of the state.

The students utilized county data for 2015 from the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development. Their analysis showed tourist spending in the 26 counties of Western North Carolina was $3.34 billion, a 3.5 percent increase over the previous year, and generated 31,540 jobs that netted $672 million in income and worker paychecks.

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Original story by Geoff Cantrell. Published on 

March 10, 2017.