New figures are out on the impact of North Carolina's tourism industry. According to a national survey by the U.S. Travel Association, there were 52.5 million visitors to North Carolina last year. They spent about 4 percent more in 2013 than they did the year before - setting an all-time spending record.
"It's the only sector that gained back all the jobs it lost during the recession," said Wit Tuttell, head of the state's Division of Tourism, Film, and Sports Development.
"It employs about 200,000 people in the state and it's an economic driver across all 100 counties bringing in $20 billion in spending. "
Tuttell says tourism generated a record $1 billion in state tax revenue. Despite being the 10th most populated state in the country, North Carolina is the sixth most-visited, behind larger states like California, New York, and Texas.
One of North Carolina's advantages is the variety of its landscape.
"It runs from everything from federal places like Blue Ridge Parkway and Cape Hatteras... to wonderful state sites like Mt. Mitchell State Park and the NC Zoo," said Tuttell.