Tennessee tourism generated $24.2 billion in travel spending in 2021


Tennessee tourism generated $24.2 billion in domestic and international travel spending in 2021, according to recently released economic impact data from the US Travel Association and Tourism Economics. It also marks the largest national visitor expenditure in Tennessee history. Tennessee travelers spend approximately $66 million per day. Trips to Tennessee generated $1.9 billion in state and local tax revenue. Travel and tourism is also the state’s third-largest employer.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Department of Tourism Development Commissioner Mark Ezell highlighted efforts to continue the industry’s strong recovery.

“Tourism drives economic development and job creation so that every Tennessean can prosper,” Governor Lee said. “Our decision to prioritize a strong recovery has resulted in record levels of tourism growth, and we continue to welcome visitors to see all that Tennessee has to offer, from the Mississippi River to the Great Smoky Mountains.”

“Tennessee is crushing it with the largest national market share of visitor spending for Tennessees in our history,” said Mark Ezell, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development. “Tennessee is one of the world’s premier travel destinations because of our tremendous assets, including our unparalleled scenic beauty, diverse cities and small towns, as well as our world-class attractions, music, cultural sites and We are so grateful to this industry and our blessed partners and visitors who come to experience these destinations and support local businesses, local restaurants, and local lodging and support communities.

Key highlights from the 2021 report:

  • Tourism in Tennessee generated a record $24 billion in domestic travel spending
  • Travel and tourism is TN’s third largest employer in 2021
  • Tennessee travelers spend approximately $66 million per day. Visitor spending in Tennessee increased 44.4% year over year. National visitor spending increased 35.7%, year over year
  • All 95 counties saw increased visitor spending in 2020
  • 51 counties have fully recovered and surpassed their visitor spending record in 2019
  • Nine counties saw more than 40% growth in travel spending year-over-year, including Davidson, Cheatham, Sevier, Union, Polk, Grundy, Knox, Blount and Hamilton
  • Five counties saw over 40% growth in travel spending in 2019, including: Cheatham, Union, Lake, Hickman and Meigs
  • Travel to Tennessee generated $1.9 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2021
  • Tax revenue generated by travel and generated by tourism saved each household in Tennessee $755.41 in state and local taxes last year

Leisure and Hospitality Industry Highlights (source: TN Department of Revenue and TN Department of Labor and Workforce Development)

  • Leisure and hospitality industries supported 317,000 jobs in 2021, up 8% from 2020 and 91% from 2019 levels
  • Leisure and hospitality revenues hit record highs and outpaced inflation
  • Leisure and hospitality employment has returned to pre-pandemic levels, but still struggles to keep up with travel demand
  • Average salaries in leisure and hospitality have risen as the industry competes for a limited number of workers. Recreation and hospitality salaries increased to $17.71 in June 2020 from $14.14 in 2020.


    Tennessee is the home of blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll – offering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history and family adventure, steeped in music who creates vacations that are the “Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee. Explore more at tnvacation.com and join other Tennessee travelers by following “TNVacation” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube, and ” Tennessee” on Snapchat.

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