RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new tourism report shows out-of-town visitors are pumping billions of dollars into Wake County's economy and there are plans to lure more people to the area.
Mike Zucarelli is from Massachusetts and is one of nearly 18 million people, according to the report, who has visited Raleigh last year and enjoyed some of our offerings.
"I love it down here. We've been down a bunch," said Zucarelli. "I took my niece to her first concert down here."
The report shows in 2022, there was an almost 13 percent increase in visitors from the year before and those people spent a record-breaking $3 billion in our community.
The increase comes as local leaders are investing big.
The Raleigh Convention Center is recommended to get $355 million dollars and PNC Arena is expected to get more than $21 million annually for 25 years, using hospitality tax money.
PNC is looking to expand at least 100,000 square feet. Five acres will be set aside for a tailgating zone and a mixed-used development that'll include affordable housing.
There isn't a design plan yet, but Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Don Waddell says the goal is to enhance the fan experience.
"From clubs to even more food options, so everything we're talking about right now, for the most part, is consumer-facing," said Waddell.
The Raleigh Convention Center is going to almost double in size. A hotel is going up to accompany it and to make room for all of this, Red Hat Amphitheater will have to be relocated.
"That will give us tourism infrastructure that will not only increase our visitation over the next 5 years or once those projects are done, but also give us as county residents amenities that we can enjoy year-round," said the GRCVB President and CEO Denny Edwards.
Several businesses around the Raleigh Convention Center are thrilled.
"I don't have a business if people don't come see the art so I'm really excited for that," said 311 Gallery Owner Lakeshia Reid.
"Events are a major force for visitors to come to Downtown Raleigh," said Parkside Owner Todd Henderson. "The reality is, the demand is there. People want to come here, events, bands, conventions want to come here. They want to move from bigger cities places like Nashville and know that we're on the radar."
Zucarelli and his family are looking forward to seeing the improvements.
"It's a great place. It is. Everybody's super nice. Food's great," he said.
The City of Raleigh and the governing board of PNC Arena have already signed off on a plan to fund the renovations.
Wake County Commissioners will have the final vote Monday, August 21.