NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, today announced during a special event at the Ryman Auditorium that tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached $17.7 billion in 2014, up 6.3 percent, and an all-time high for the state. Tourism-generated jobs for Tennesseans reached 152,900, an increase of 2.8 percent. State and local sales tax revenue for the industry topped $1.5 billion, up 7 percent over 2013, and the ninth consecutive year tourism topped $1 billion, according to the latest statistics from the 2014 Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee as reported by U.S. Travel Association.
For the first time in history, travel to Tennessee topped 100 million, achieving 101.3 million person stays, a 5.1 percent increase over 2013. International travel increased 8.4 percent, reaching $576.5 million in economic impact. All 95 counties in Tennessee had more than $1 million in direct travel expenditures, 19 counties saw more than $100 million, and three counties, Davidson, Shelby and Sevier, had more than $1 billion in economic impact. The top five counties are rounded out by Knox and Hamilton, respectively. Tennessee is ranked in the Top 10 destinations in the U.S. for total travel.
Tourists spent a total of $988.05 million in Knox County in 2014, an increase of 6.2% compared to 2013, generating a total of $49.97 million in state and $23.50 million in local tax revenues, increases of 7.0% and 6.3%, respectively. More than 9,106 Knox Countians are employed in tourism-related fields.
“This is big news for Knoxville, Tennessee, but it isn't surprising. These numbers reflect the momentum we've been experiencing with tourism,” said Kim Bumpas president, Visit Knoxville. "We fell to the 5th largest producing county in 2011 and have been working hard to remain competitive. The 2014 numbers that move us back into 4th are a major achievement and reflect not only the efforts of Visit Knoxville but those of our outstanding tourism partners.”
“This increase in tourism across the board is a result of the strategic work of Tourist Development, the Tourism Committee, and the entire tourism and hospitality industry,” Haslam said. “We want Tennessee to be a place people from all over the world want to visit. The data shows that’s happening, and more jobs and $1.5 billion in sales tax revenue is good news for every Tennessean.”
Tennessee’s customer satisfaction landed at an impressive 8.5 out of 10. The satisfaction scores are greater than those of the average U.S. destination.
“Tourists are drawn to Tennessee for our world-renown music, outstanding attractions, stunning scenic beauty,” Triplett said. “But, at the end of the day, people keep coming to Tennessee for our authenticity and exceptional, Southern hospitality. That is the ‘made in Tennessee’ brand delivered to our visitors every day by our communities and partners.”
The Tennessee Tourism Committee, appointed in 2011 by Gov. Bill Haslam, is made up of tourism leaders in both the public and private sectors. TTC 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.