Tennessee Tourism outperforms the nation with a record $24 billion in domestic travel spending
Posted 12:28 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Tennessee tourism generated $24.2 billion in domestic and international travel spending in 2021, according to recently released economic impact data from the U.S. Association for Travel and Tourism Economics. It also marks the highest national visitor spending in Tennessee history. Commuters in Tennessee spend an estimated $66 million per day. Travel in Tennessee generated $1.9 billion in state and local tax revenue. Travel and tourism is also the third largest employer in the state.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Department of Tourism Development Commissioner Mark Ezell highlighted efforts to continue the industry’s strong recovery.
“Tourism fuels economic development and job creation so all Tennesseans can prosper,” Governor Lee said. “Our decision to prioritize a strong recovery has produced record levels of tourism growth, and we continue to welcome visitors to see all that Tennessee has to offer, from the Mississippi River to the Great Smoky Mountains.”
“Tennessee is blowing it away with the highest national visitor spending for Tennesseans in our history,” said Mark Ezell, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development. “Tennessee is one of the world’s top travel destinations because of our tremendous assets, including our unmatched scenic beauty, diverse cities and small towns, as well as our world-class attractions, musical, cultural and historical sites. We are so grateful to this industry and our partners and blessed visitors who come to experience these destinations and support local businesses, local restaurants, and local lodging and support communities.”
Key highlights from the 2021 report:
• Tennessee tourism generated a record $24 billion in domestic travel spending
• Travel and tourism is the third largest employer in TN in 2021
• Commuters in Tennessee spend an estimated $66 million per day. Visitor spending in Tennessee increased 44.4%, year over year. Nationwide visitor spending increased by 35.7%, year over year
• All 95 counties saw an increase in visitor spending during 2020
• 51 counties fully recovered and surpassed their 2019 visitor spending record
• Nine counties experienced more than 40% growth in travel spending year over year, including Davidson, Cheatham, Sevier, Union, Polk, Grundy, Knox, Blount and Hamilton.
• Five counties experienced more than 40% growth from 2019 travel spend, including: Cheatham, Union, Lake, Hickman and Meigs
• Travel in Tennessee generated $1.9 billion in state and local tax revenue in
• Tourism-generated travel tax revenue saved each Tennessee household $755.41 in state and local taxes last year
Highlights of the leisure and hospitality industry
• The leisure and hospitality industries generated 317,000 jobs in 2021, an increase of 8%
• Leisure and hospitality industries supported 317,000 jobs in 2021, an increase of 8% from 2020 and 91% from 2019 levels from 2020 levels and 91% from 2019
• Leisure and hospitality revenues have recovered to record levels and outpaced inflation
• Employment in leisure and hospitality has returned to pre-pandemic levels, but still struggles to keep up with travel demand
• Average leisure and hospitality wages have risen as the industry competes for a limited number of workers. Leisure and hospitality wages increased to $17.71 in June 2020, compared to $14.14 in 2020.
The Tennessee Department of Tourism Development works with the Tennessee Tourism Board, local convention and visitor bureaus, chambers of commerce, city and county leaders, tourist attractions, and the hospitality industry in all 95 counties to inspire trips to the state.