NAPA -- Napa Valley hosted 2.94 million visitors in 2012, generating $1.4 billion in direct tourism spending, and more than three-quarters of them come for dining and wine tasting, according to results from two studies.

On a typical day, more than 13,400 visitors spent an average of $3.82 million, while visitors spent an annual average of $10,027 per Napa Valley resident, according to 2012 Napa Valley Economic Impact Study. Overnight guests to Napa County's lodging properties represented 73.6 percent of the 2012 spending, averaging $355 per person, per day, over the course of three days, the study said.

Additionally, more than 80 percent of all visitors to the region are interested in wine tasting rooms, while 77 percent visit for dining and the region's restaurants, according to the 2012 Napa Valley Visitor Profile study.

“It’s very exciting to learn what our guests enjoy most about our region,” said Clay Gregory, chief executive officer of Visit Napa Valley, Napa County's official tourism promoter and commissioner of the studies. “And the hard data about the economic impact shows how important tourism is to our community.”4.9 million 'visitor days' in 2012

The new findings, compiled by Destination Analysts, improve upon a 2005 report that said Napa Valley had 4.7 million "visitor days" per year.

"This figure has been widely misreported as the total number of guests visiting the region versus the total number of visitor days represented -- each day a guest was in the Napa Valley," Visit Napa Valley said in announcing the reports.

In 2012, the total number of visitor days was estimated to be nearly 4.9 million. Of the visitor days in both studies, approximately 2 million were day-trip visitors.

The visitor profile survey also found that 53.8 percent of visitors were interested in shopping, 52 percent in wineries and 16.7 percent in art galleries, art walks and other artistic activities. Those destinations, along with wine-tasting rooms and dining, rounded out the five most popular tourist attractions for Napa Valley.

The biggest single component of visitor spending was on retail, amounting to $494 million in 2012, or 35.4 percent of all spending, according to the study. Lodging was second at $327 million, or 24 percent of spending. Visitors paid $301 million on food and restaurants. Group meetings and events generated $187.7 million.

Visitor spending in 2012 also supported nearly 10,500 jobs, with about 3,800 jobs in restaurants and more than 3,000 in lodging. Those jobs, the study said, amounted to an estimated combined payroll of $300 million, which in turn generated $51.7 million in tax revenue for government entities in the county.

Taxes collected include the transient occupancy tax, sales and property taxes and transfer taxes paid on lodging. Hotels accounted for the majority of tax revenue, largely through TOT, creating about $33 million in income for government. Tax revenues generated per Napa County household was $1,041.'Scenic beauty' edges out wine

Guests reported their “most-liked” aspects of Napa Valley are its scenic beauty (37.3 percent of respondents) followed by wine (34.9 percent). Outdoor activities -- visiting farmer’s markets, state and local parks, hiking, biking, golf, canoeing and kayaking and organized athletic events -- were also popular.

According to the visitor profile study, travelers come primarily for leisure purposes, with 34.4 percent in Napa Valley for vacation, and another third came for a weekend getaway (34.2%). About one in ten visitors attended a wedding or special event (11.7%) and a similar proportion visited for other personal travel reasons (11.3%). Business, conference or government travel accounted for 7.6 percent of visitors.

The visitor profile results also indicated a "very high level of guest satisfaction," with 92.9 percent of visitors “likely” or “very likely” to return. The average guest visited the valley 2.8 times in the previous 12 months.

Throughout 2012, 56 Napa Valley lodging properties participated in the survey by distributing a brief, self-administered questionnaire to all departing guests for two weeks each quarter.

A total of 1,129 fully completed surveys were collected throughout 2012. Additionally, an identical "intercept" survey was used to interview a random sample of day-trip visitors and those staying at private Napa County homes. A selection of hoteliers also contributed to the studies, as did Napa County households surveyed by phone.