(The Center Square) – Tourism spending in Tennessee fell in 2020 for the first time in 10 years, according to data from the US Travel Association and Tourism Economics.
Tourism spending in Tennessee fell 31.6%, less than the 42% drop nationwide.
Within that drop, there was a 78.7% drop in spending by international visitors in a year that was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, according to a report compiled by the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development.
The decrease in tourism spending has resulted in a decrease in tax revenue on sales and use throughout the state; the money the state depends on during the budgeting process. During the year, 44% of net jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry were lost.
Overall, there was a $ 4.1 billion drop in gross taxable sales to Tennessee entertainment and hospitality businesses during the year, according to the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
“Tourism is a critical part of our state’s strong economic recovery,” Governor Bill Lee said in a press release. “By working together to support small businesses and drive job growth, we’ll ensure Tennessee continues to be one of the world’s premier travel destinations.”
The hardest hit area of tax collection in the industry was related to accommodation, which fell 41% on the year. Arts, entertainment and recreation fell 31.1%, while food services and drinking places were down 13.4%.
Overall, the industry collected $ 288.6 million less in taxes in 2020 than in 2019, a reduction of 20.8%.
“The decline in state tax revenue on sales and use represented a loss of $ 303 million to the state budget between March and December 2020,” the report says.
While final numbers showed the effect of declining travel, Tennessee travel and tourism was at an all-time high for the first two months of the year, and many outdoor tourist spots saw a boom. strong growth, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which had a record 12 million visitors in 2020.
“Tennessee’s scenic beauty, strong outdoor assets, and fascinating rural and tourist destinations have given it an edge over other states,” said Mark Ezell, commissioner for the Department of Tourism Development, in a press release. “We have seen parts of our state not only survive, but also prosper. Our mission as a ministry is to inspire travel to all 95 counties, and we are committed to restoring economic prosperity to our industry.
Tourism is the # 2 industry in the state and was the # 4 employer in the state in 2020.
While tourism spending was down in most counties in 2020, it was not in all. Campbell, Carter, Cheatham, Crockett, DeKalb, Grainger, Hardeman, Hickman, Johnson, Lake, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Union and Van Buren counties saw their tourism spending increase.