Tennessee tourism looks to bounce back, struggles to find workers could make things difficult


NASHVILLE, Tenn, (WKRN) – Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Tennessee was generating billions in economic impact from tourism.

Now the industry that has been hit hard is facing a resurgence with more and more people wanting to get out and travel.

Tourism and Development Department commissioner Mark Ezell said visitor spending in Tennessee before the pandemic exceeded $ 24 billion.

But early last year… the industry was forced to shut down.

A loss of tens of thousands of jobs according to the Ministry of Tourism Development.

Some tourists from Tennessee said their motivation for coming here ranged from road trips to people who wanted to take advantage of the more relaxed COVID-19 guidelines.

“Really relaxed COVID guidelines have helped… yes, we feel like it’s normal now,” said Lori Loomis, a tourist from Rhode Island.

Justin Rhoades, a tourist from Illinois said, “We are from Illinois. They have much stricter guidelines there, so… we’re fed up. “

Department of tourism officials said people are already booking conventions, trips and hotels to come to Tennessee. In fact, Commissioner Ezell said in April, attendance from visitors from Tennessee had returned to pre-January 2020 pandemic levels.

But concerns remain about the return of people to work to do the tourism and hospitality jobs which represent a large part of the state budget.

“What we know we need to do is make sure we have a workforce available and ready to help us because people want to travel. And this summer in particular, we’re looking for central Tennessee to just explode with travelers and tourists, but we have to make sure that the people there are prepared to help these businesses, ”Ezell said.

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