Visitors in the Tar Heel state spent almost $17 billion last year. The Governor's Office today released the visitor spending numbers from 2008 and they reflect some positive economic news for most of North Carolina. The Satin family enjoyed their ice cream cones along the riverfront Wednesday afternoon, a sweet part of their vacation from Connecticut. While they're helping to pump dollars into North Carolina’s economy, they're doing so carefully. "We got a house on the beach with kind of a bigger group to help split the cost a little bit,” Joel Satin said. "We drove down this year instead of flying." Visitor spending increased in 62 of North Carolina’s 100 counties in 2008. Spending in Bladen County was up 5.4 percent, Brunswick County 0.2 percent, Columbus County 4.6 percent, and Pender County saw a 2.5 percent increase. New Hanover was the only local county to see a decrease, with spending down 0.8 percent. "When you consider that we're comparing to 2007, a year when spending was up almost ten percent, plus the fact that the recession kind of settled in during late 2008, being down less than one percent isn't really as bad as it could have been,” said Connie Nelson of the Cape Fear Visitors Bureau. Especially since people still are visiting the area, even if it is with a watchful eye. As for spending in 2009, Connie Nelson says it's down almost nine percent in New Hanover County through June. She hopes that will turn around as the economy starts to pick up and since the new film incentives bill was passed.
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