Rutherford County now ranks in the top 10 Tennessee counties for travel spending for 2019, according to figures recently released by the US Travel Association.
Figures from the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the US Travel Association showed total tourism spending rose from $ 367.6 million to $ 385.2 million locally between 2018 and 2019, an increase of $ 4. 8%.
“I am delighted that we are seeing this growth,” Barbara Wolke, senior vice president of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Convention and Tourism Bureau. “This is the ninth consecutive year that we have recorded growth. “
The new reports reinforce the importance of tourism to the local economy.
“Tourism is a big part of our county’s formula for success,” Destination Rutherford President Bill Jones said. “It is essential that we find ways to support our travel partners during this troubled time; our economy depends on it.
The money tourists spend in Rutherford County on restaurants, hotels, retail stores, entertainment venues, and on transportation actually saves local residents money.
“If it weren’t for the state and local taxes generated for tourism, each household would pay an additional $ 289 each year,” Wolke said.
Tourism has also generated 2,870 jobs, produced more than $ 70 million in payroll and generated $ 8 million in local tax revenues.
While COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the travel industry as a whole, Wolke said she is seeing a “slow and steady recovery” within the hospitality industry as sports, recreation and business travel is making a comeback in Rutherford County.
The hotel occupancy rate in April was 40%, followed by an increase to 55.9% in June and up to 59.5% in July.
“While tourism has certainly slowed, travelers still depend on County Rutherford to provide an affordable and safe destination,” said Rutherford County Convention and Tourism Bureau Chairman Travis Emore.
There are approximately 5,500 hotel rooms available in the county, with two more hotels slated to open next year.
“People are drawn here”
Wolke said Rutherford County’s location relative to the rest of the country makes it an attractive destination.
“We’re located within a day’s drive of 75% of the population in the United States. It’s perfect for sporting and other group events,” Wolke said. “And it’s a beautiful road. A lot of people are now taking day trips.
Susan Gulley, director of cultural and heritage tourism for Rutherford County, predicts that more dollars will come through additions to entertainment offerings in the near future.
Plans are underway to transform Carp Artista Headquarters in downtown Smyrna as a two-story arts training center, cafe and concert hall. A fundraising campaign will begin soon to help make the vision a reality, she said.
Carp Artista:Renovated art center on the horizon
Gulley also worked with artists and municipalities in Rutherford County to create a mural and public art tour.
“The more things we build… puts us on the radar of people who want to visit,” Gulley said. “We used the term: ‘Richness of Rutherford.’ It’s so true, not just the visual arts, but the history and the musical talent and the performance talent … People are drawn here.
The 2019 tourism economic impact ranked Rutherford County 9th out of 95 counties in the state. Here’s a look at the numbers:
- $ 385 million in spending
- 2,879 jobs
- Produces $ 70.82 million in payroll
- Creation of $ 8.12 million in local tax revenues
- Creation of 23.6 million dollars in tax revenues for the State
- Daily tourist spending was $ 1.1 million
- Daily expenses generated $ 22,245 in local taxes