Tennessee Celebrates Record-Breaking Tourism

Mark Ezell, the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, went to Sevier County to congratulate the Tennessee tourism team for a record-breaking year.

“Tennessee is crushing it with the largest visitor spending national market share for Tennesseans in our history,” Ezell said in a recent statement.

He added, “Tennessee is one of the top travel destinations in the world because of our tremendous assets, including our unmatched scenic beauty, diverse cities, and small towns, as well as our world class attractions, music, cultural and historical sites. We’re so grateful to this industry and our partners and blessed visitors come experience these destinations and support local businesses, local restaurants, and local lodging and support communities.”

Ezell celebrated the success of Sevier County, which continues to lead the state in tourism. Overall, this year, visitor spending was up more than 40 percent. Sevier County was at $3.4 billion, and Knox County spending was at $1.6 billion.

According to data collected by the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics, in 2021, tourism in Tennessee generated $24.2 billion in domestic and international travel spending, and travelers in Tennessee spent an estimated $66 million per day. Tennessee generated $1.9 billion in state and local tax revenue from travel.

Governor Bill Lee stated, “Tourism drives economic development and job creation so that every Tennessean can thrive. Our decision to prioritize strong recovery has yielded record levels of tourism growth, and we continue to welcome visitors to see al Tennessee has to offer, from the Mississippi River to the Great Smoky Mountains.”

Travel and tourism in Tennessee were the third largest employers for Tennessee citizens. In 2021, the leisure and hospitality industries supported 317,000 jobs, an 8 percent increase from 2020. Due to the success of the leisure and hospitality industries in Tennessee, wages have increased to $17.71 an hour.

Travel-generated tax revenue generated by tourism saved each household in Tennessee approximately $755 in state and local taxes last year.

Nine counties in Tennessee experienced more than 40 percent growth in year-over-year travel spending, including Davidson County, Cheatham County, Union County, Lake County, Hickman County, and Meigs County.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development works with the Tennessee Tourism Committee, local convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce, city and county leaders, tourism attractions, and the hospitality industry in all 95 counties in Tennessee. Their goal is to inspire travel throughout the state.

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Kaitlyn Osteen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Send Kaitlyn news tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mississippi River Paddleboat Tour” by Ken Lund. CC BY-SA 2.0.


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2 Thoughts to “Tennessee Celebrates Record-Breaking Tourism”

  1. John Bumpus

    “Tennessee Celebrates Record-Breaking Tourism”

    And WHY is this true? Could it be because people are ‘checking out’ our State as a possible new home? Our General Assembly needs to be thinking ‘long term’ and enacting legislation accordingly, NOW, to deal with the many problems that will result from all of these probable new Tennesseans.

    1. 83ragtop50

      Bumpus – Excellent point. Growth (which it seems all politicians love) is expensive to the existing constituents in many ways. The so-called impact fees cover a miniscule portion of the total cost. But the politicians tell us the increased tax revenues from growth will cover the costs. That is totally false. Taxes just get raised on EVERYONE.