TN tourism tops major milestone

The Cumberland County Playhouse was a top 50 tourism attraction statewide in 2013.
The Cumberland County Playhouse was a top 50 tourism attraction statewide in 2013.

NASHVILLE – For the first time in history, Tennessee travel has exceeded 100 million domestic person stays, announced by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development today. Tourism results for 2014 recently reported by D.K. Shifflet & Associates confirm a record-breaking year for Tennessee tourism.

Total travel to Tennessee for this record year was 101.3 million, up from 96.4 million in 2013, an increase of 5.1 percent. This was higher than the national growth of 4.4 percent. Since 2004, Tennessee saw a total increase of more than 25 million person stays. Increases in visitor volume translate into increases in Tennessee revenues. Preliminary numbers for 2014 economic impact results project nearly $18 billion in direct travel expenditures. This is an estimated increase of $1.3 billion over the previous year.

“We’re thrilled to announce this record-setting accomplishment for Tennessee’s tourism industry,” said Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Susan Whitaker. “Thanks to Gov. Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly, we’ve had $12 million in additional funds over the past two years to launch a new brand campaign ‘The Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee.’ Early indicators for the campaign were extremely positive. Now we know the results of that launch are 100 million visitors to Tennessee. That is a win for every citizen of our state.”

Attracting visitors to Tennessee are some of the top tourism sites in America including Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dollywood, Grand Ole Opry, Beale Street, Graceland, Bristol Motor Speedway and the Tennessee Aquarium. The coming year will likely continue to see growth, state officials say, as Tennessee welcomes new attractions in 2015 such as Dolly Parton’s DreamMore Resort in Pigeon Forge, Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in Memphis and the George Jones Museum in Nashville.

The most recent tourism numbers for the Upper Cumberland are from 2013. That year, visitors dished out $359.62 million in the region at restaurants, hotels, retail stores, entertainment venues and on transportation, an increase of 0.5 percent from the previous year. That report was compiled by the Research Department of the U.S. Travel Association in Washington, D.C.

D.K. Shifflett & Associates, meanwhile, is a national syndicated and custom travel research and consulting company that provides intelligent market insight to the tourism and hospitality industry.

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