Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett announced Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached a new all-time record high of $20.7 billion in 2017, up 6.3 percent over the previous year, as reported by the U.S. Travel Association.
The announcement was made at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.
For the 12th consecutive year, tourism topped $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, reaching $1.8 billion. That marks a 7.6 percent increase over 2016, higher than the national growth of travel related state tax revenues of 4.6 percent. Tourism also generated 184,300 jobs for Tennesseans, a 3.1 percent growth year over year.
Guests spent a total of $23.59 million in Lincoln County in 2017, an increase of 0.8 percent compared to 2016, generating a total of $1.48 million in state and $0.75 million in local tax revenues. A total of 148 Lincoln Countians are employed in tourism-related fields, according to the report.
“Counties, cities and rural communities work hard to make our state a premier destination, welcoming visitors from around the world,” Haslam said. “Our state’s second biggest industry continues to see outstanding growth, break visitation records, boost Tennessee’s economy and create new jobs. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee Tourism Committee continue to produce record results that fuel our state’s economy.”
All 95 counties enjoyed an increase in tourism expenditures. Each county saw more than $1 million in direct travel expenditures in the economic impact of tourism. Five counties exceeded one billion in travel expenditures, including Davidson ($6.505 billion), Shelby ($3.503 billion), Sevier ($2.276 billion), Hamilton ($1.112 billion) and Knox ($1.097 billion).
“The growth of the tourism industry and its economic impact comes from guests discovering the world-class food, history and culture, scenic beauty and outdoors and experiences that make Tennessee ‘The Soundtrack of America’,” Commissioner Kevin Triplett said.
“The authenticity and Southern hospitality from our communities and partners gives visitors an unbeatable experience and inspires them to return. The numbers show Tennessee is a destination of choice for visitors around the world. However, we would not have these numbers if not for the capital investments, renovations and dedication made by tourism partners across the state to deliver great experiences that create wonderful memories.”
A record 113.6 million person stays also were recorded in 2017, according to U.S. Travel. Those numbers place Tennessee among the Top 10 travel destinations in the nation for the fourth consecutive year. Tennessee is also considered a top retirement destination.
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development works with local convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce and city and county leaders in all 95 counties to draw and welcome people to the state. The Tennessee Tourism Committee, chaired by Colin Reed of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. formed in 2011. Gov. Haslam appointed the Tennessee tourism committee, made up of tourism leaders in both the public and private sectors to help bring travelers to Tennessee.