Cookeville-Putnam County tourism, record breaking impact numbers

Record breaking tourism revenues for Cookeville-Putnam County and Tennessee, overall, as reported by Gov. Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development during a press conference in Nashville. From left is: Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development; Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development, Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau; and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

Gov. Haslam, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development announce 2017 figures

NASHVILLE – The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau joined Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett as they announced Tennessee tourism’s latest economic impact numbers. Direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached an all-time record high of $20.77 billion in 2017, up 6.3 percent over the previous year, as reported by the U.S. Travel Association. Putnam County’s contribution to that growth resulted in $132.03 million in tourism expenditures, an increase of 7.3 percent, landing a spot among the top ten counties for percentage increase over the previous year.

For the 12th consecutive year, Tennessee tourism topped $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, reaching $1.83 billion. That marks a 7.6 percent increase over 2016 (national growth, 4.6 percent). Tourism generated 184,300 jobs for Tennesseans, a 3.1 percent growth year over year (national growth, 2.5 percent).

Putnam County saw an 8.1 percent increase in payroll with $24.89 million generated by tourism-related jobs. A 5.4 percent increase in local tax receipts and a 6.0 percent increase in state tax receipts were also reported, while employment numbers grew to 1,060 hospitality industry jobs.

“Counties, cities and rural communities work hard to make our state a premier destination, welcoming visitors from around the world,” Haslam said. “Our state’s second biggest industry continues to see outstanding growth, break visitation records, boost Tennessee’s economy and create new jobs. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee Tourism Committee continue to produce record results that fuel our state’s economy.”

All 95 counties saw an increase in economic impact with each having more than $1 million in direct travel expenditures, and 20 counties saw more than $100 million.

“The growth of the tourism industry and its economic impact comes from guests discovering the world-class food, history and culture, scenic beauty and outdoors and experiences that make Tennessee ‘The Soundtrack of America.’” Triplett said. “The authenticity and Southern hospitality from our communities and partners gives visitors an unbeatable experience and inspires them to return. The numbers show Tennessee is a destination of choice for visitors around the world.”

“We are thrilled to see this incredible increase in visitor spending for Putnam County,” said Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development, Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau. “We view these results as a success of our focused and strategic marketing efforts which have been elevated in our target drive and fly markets.”

“In reviewing these new numbers and based on the $300,000 budget allocated by Putnam County for our portion of the lodging tax paid by the visitor, we are seeing an 800 percent increase in return on investment for our community,” said Ledbetter. “That said, for every dollar we invest in visitor development, we are seeing an eight dollar return in local tax revenues.”

“We feel our continued efforts to serve as the destination marketing organization for Cookeville-Putnam County are paying off and will continue to develop, providing visibility of our community not only to potential guests, but potential industry and retail partners, while also providing a large tax relief to local residents,” added Ledbetter.

To view the full overview of 2017 Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee Counties, go to

For a breakdown of Putnam County economic impact results, go to:

 About: The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, a program of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, serves as the designated destination marketing organization (DMO) for Putnam County and is funded by a portion of the Putnam County lodging tax, a tax paid by visitors’ and collected by local lodging partners such as hotels, bed & breakfasts, etc. Ranking at 17th of Tennessee’s 95 counties, the visitors’ bureau is tasked with inspiring travel and overnight stays in Putnam County. Primary marketing pillars in drive and fly markets include outdoors; fitness/sports; motorcycling; arts/culture; and culinary/crafts. Most recent U.S. Travel Association statistics note visitor spending in Putnam County generated $2.7 million in local tax revenue, providing a tax relief for local residents. To learn more about the work of the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, go to www.VisitCookevilleTN.comor request additional information at



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