County sees positive tourism impact

Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett announced this week Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached an all-time record high of $19.3 billion in 2016, up 4.7 percent over the previous year, as reported by the U.S. Travel Association.

The eight counties representing Northeast Tennessee generated $800 million economic impact to the region from domestic travel. The counties of Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington had increases in overall economic impact from previous years.

“More people from around the world continue to visit Tennessee each year,” Haslam
said. “The $1.7 billion in sales tax revenue and job growth are good news for everyone in Tennessee. The hard work of the tourism industry, led by the Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee Tourism Committee, continues to produce record results and dedication to boost Tennessee’s economy.”

In 2016, each household received approximately $194 in state and local tax relief through tourism economic impact. Carter County saw a 2 percent increase in overall tourism expenditures, which means people from outside of a 50-mile radius came into the county to spend a total of $37 million in 2016. For more details about Carter County’s economic impact growth, please read this article from the Elizabethton Star.

“The economic impact growth of the tourism industry is a result of guests from around the world discovering everything that makes Tennessee ‘The Soundtrack of America,’” Commissioner Triplett said. “It starts with what we have; the music, history, culture and experiences. It is enhanced by how those things are managed. The authenticity and Southern hospitality from our communities and partners create an environment for our guests in a way not only that helps them enjoy their stay but motivates them to return. These numbers are a reflection of Tennessee becoming a destination of choice. But a critical component of this is they do not include the staggering capital investments being made by tourism partners across the state to enhance the experience.”

An increase in leisure travelers also led to a jump in overnight stays. Tennessee places among the Top 10 travel destinations in the U.S. for the third consecutive year and is considered a top retirement destination. Northeast Tennessee counties of Sullivan and Washington remain in the top 10 visited areas of Tennessee.

“Northeast Tennessee continues to grow as a top destination for business and leisure travel each year, Executive Director of Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association Alicia Phelps said. “Jobs are created, tourist related businesses and
programs are developing, and the communities feel the positive impact of each dollar spent by folks visiting our region.”

The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, chartered in 1977, is a non-profit tourism agency that serves and supports Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties, as well as portions of
Southwest Virginia. The organization also serves as one of eight statewide regional tourism organizations recognized by Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

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