Tennessee boasts $18.4 billion in travel expenditures for 2015
By Jeaneane Payne
AUGUST 30, 2016 at 12:58 p.m.
SEVIERVILLE, TN – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett announced today that Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached an all-time high of $18.4 billion in 2015. The announcement took place at the Sevier County Courthouse near the iconic Dolly Parton statue. To liven the event, Mountain Rukus from Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede provided music.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett at the Dolly Parton Statue, Sevier County Courthouse. Image by Jeaneane Payne.
“Sevier County had the highest percentage gain (8.5%) of all 95 counties,” said Gov. Haslam. “The majority of our international tourists were from UK, Germany, and Canada, and the $1.6 billion in sales tax revenue and growth in jobs is good news for every Tennessean.”
“We can track our advertising dollars. We are currently getting an 18:1 return on our tourism advertising dollar.”
For the 10th consecutive year, tourism topped $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, reaching $1.6 billion, up 7 percent over 2014. Tourism-generated jobs for Tennesseans reached 157,400 (an increase of 2.9 percent), a $3.6 billion payroll, and $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenues (a 7.0% increase).
Top five counties include Davidson ($5.686 billion), Shelby ($3.196 billion), Sevier ($2.031 billion), Hamilton ($1.016 billion), and Knox ($1.014 billion), who were acknowledged during the event for all achieving more than $1 billion in travel expenditures. All 95 counties in Tennessee had more than $1 million in direct travel expenditures; 19 counties saw more than $100 million each.
Tennessee is ranked in the Top 10 Destinations in the U.S. for total travel, with more than 105 million in total visitation, a 3.9% increase over 2014, as reported by D.K. Shifflet & Associates.
“It’s appropriate that today’s announcement takes place next to a statue of Sevier County’s own Dolly Parton, who graces the cover of this year’s Tennessee Vacation Guide,” said Commissioner Triplett. “Dolly’s music has played a major role in making Tennessee ‘The Soundtrack of America.’ People come to Tennessee for a variety of reasons including the music, but it’s the authenticity and Southern hospitality that our communities and partners deliver every day that keeps people coming back. The tourism industry’s continued economic impact growth is a result of visitor satisfaction.”
“There are currently 160,000 tourism jobs in the state of Tennessee,” said Triplett.
The Tennessee Tourism Committee, appointed in 2011 by Gov. Haslam, is made up of tourism leaders in both the public and private sectors. The Committee is chaired by Colin Reed, Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc., and co-chaired by Jack Soden, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., and Sande Weiss, president of Music Road Resort.
According to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Tennessee is the birthplace of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll. All of these assets deliver an unparalleled experience of beauty, history, and family adventure, infused with music, that creates a vacation that is “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” Tennessee’s tourism industry generates $18.4 billion annually in economic impact, more than $1.6 billion in state and local sales tax revenue and more than 157,400 tourism-related jobs.
Published August 30, 2016