Summer camps equal big bucks for local economy

Western North Carolina has one of the highest concentrations of summer camps in America, and an economic-impact study completed in January by a team of researchers from N. C. State University found it amounts to about $365 million.

The researchers looked at residential summer youth camps in four counties: Buncombe, Henderson, Jackson and Transylvania. The study also estimated a direct economic impact of $218 million; more than 10,000 full-time equivalent jobs created in addition to camp staff; $260 million in increased resident income and $33 million in tax revenue during the summer of 2010.

Seasonal staff, who traveled specifically to WNC because of the residential camps, were shown to spend an average of $2,402 during their stay (before, during, and after camp) in WNC.

Incremental visitors, who traveled specifically to WNC because of residential camps and did not live in the four-county WNC region, each spent an average of $2,096 during multiple stays in WNC.

The study also examined families’ perceptions of the benefits of summer camps. More than 93 percent of camp families felt camps made a positive difference in their children’s lives, and 95 percent would not only recommend a camp experience, but would send their child back to camp.

The two Jackson County camps included in the study had an $11.5 million total economic impact, $7 million direct economic impact, and $800,000 in tax revenue.

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