As one of Tennessee’s largest industries, tourism employs more than 175,000 individuals and generates $11.4 billion in direct revenues, making it one of the state’s key economic drivers.
As a direct result of the efforts of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the entire industry to promote the state as a prime vacation destination, Tennessee has moved from the 12th to the 11th most visited state among U.S. domestic visitors.
“Clearly the increased visitors to Tennessee are contributing to a growing Tennessee economy in terms of jobs, taxes, paychecks and the growth of support businesses of tourism firms,” said Steve Morse, director and economist of UT Tourism Institute at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.
A continual pipeline of new attractions, convention business, festivals and special events are positively affecting Tennessee tourism’s economic impact.
The economic impact of tourism is not limited to one geographic area, but has constantly been favorable throughout the entire state. As one example, Pigeon Forge – a place where locals like to say “all business is tourism business” – has added numerous attractions, restaurants and unique shopping opportunities resulting in 2005’s record in gross receipts of $777.6 million, a 9% increase over 2004. According to the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism, the city generated $54.4 million in sales taxes for the state’s coffers and another $9.2 million respectively for Pigeon Forge and Sevier County.
Middle Tennessee was a major beneficiary last month as roughly 25,000 out of town visitors flocked to Nashville over the four days of the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament, spending about $12 million to $13 million in the city, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates. The city also played host to the first and second rounds of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament and the men’s and women’s Ohio Valley Conference basketball tournament, bringing in even more visitors.
The increased visitors to Tennessee and the positive impact on job growth and the tax base demonstrate the diversity the state has to offer for vacations and business meetings... This year the Memphis Cook Convention Center will reap the benefits of its $92 million expansion completed in 2003. Convention and tradeshow bookings are up 42.1% over last year, 27 scheduled for 2006 verses 19 in 2005, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau officials stated. The economic impact generated for Memphis and Shelby County from conventions at the MCCC in 2006 will total $63 million compared to $43.2 million in 2005, a 44.2% increase over 2005.
Economic impact is represented by measures of spending, employment, payroll, business receipts and tax revenues generated by traveler spending. These are just a few examples of the success stories for tourism in Tennessee.
“The increased visitors to Tennessee and the positive impact on job growth and the tax base demonstrate the diversity the state has to offer for vacations and business meetings,” Morse said. “These new jobs generated will never be exported overseas.”