Tourism in Tennessee generated $ 16.8 billion in domestic and international travel spending in 2020, down 31.6% from the previous year, according to new data on the economic impact of the US Travel Association and Tourism Economics. Travel to Tennessee has generated nearly 150,000 jobs and $ 1.4 billion in local and state tax revenues. Despite the impact of COVID-19, efforts to promote outdoor travel opportunities have helped Tennessee surpass the national average drop of 42%.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Tourism Development Commissioner Mark Ezell highlighted efforts to continue the industry’s strong recovery.
“Tourism is a critical part of our state’s strong economic recovery,” Governor Lee said. “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.”
“Tennessee’s scenic beauty, 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. “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.
Additional highlights from the 2020 report:
In the first two months of 2020, Tennessee’s entertainment and hospitality industry was on a record track.
COVID-19 was the biggest crisis to hit the entertainment and hospitality industry in history.
In 2020, tourism has shifted from business and solo trips to longer, leisure-oriented family trips.
Outdoor attractions have seen historic growth in 2020. For example, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomed a record 12 million visitors.
Fifteen counties in Tennessee saw an increase in travel spending. Grainger, Van Buren, Cheatham, Hickman, Campbell and Union counties saw an increase of more than 5%.
Tourism was Tennessee’s fourth largest employer in 2020.
The state of Tennessee has recorded 75 million visits by people to the country.
Income generated from tourism saved every household in Tennessee $ 550 in state and local taxes last year.
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 Economic impact on travel report 2020 includes newly expanded county snapshots with additional data that will be available on Tuesday. A new dashboard with county data and comprehensive models of the economic impact of spending by industry will be launched at Governors’ Conference on Tourism and Hospitality September 15-17 in Murfreesboro.
The Tennessee Department of Tourism Development works with the Tennessee Tourism Committee, local convention and visitor offices, chambers of commerce, city and county leaders, tourist attractions, and hospitality industries in all 95 counties to inspire travel around the state. Partners can find toolkits here.