COOKEVILLE – Visitors to the Upper Cumberland spent nearly $390 million during their travels in 2015, according to new numbers released by the state of Tennessee on Tuesday, a 3-percent gain over the previous year.
Most all 14 counties saw increases in expenditures – only Pickett and White saw drops in visitor spending year-over-year. Putnam, for the second consecutive report, stood atop the list at $122.15 million. Cumberland followed with $112.29 million in expenditures in 2015.
Overall, the region’s tourism-related payroll topped $66.2 million. Roughly 276 jobs were created as a direct result. That’s an increase of 6.5 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett announced the state’s tourism data during an event in Sevier County. Statewide, expenditures reached an all-time high of $18.4 billion last year, up 3.7 percent, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
For the 10th consecutive year, tourism topped $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, reaching $1.6 billion, up 7 percent over 2014. Tourism-generated jobs for Tennesseans reached 157,400, an increase of 2.9 percent. All 95 counties had more than $1 million in direct travel expenditures; 19 counties saw more than $100 million each.
“More travelers from around the world are visiting Tennessee each year, and the $1.6 billion in sales tax revenue and growth in jobs is good news for every Tennessean,” Haslam said.
Overton County in particular celebrated its results. It saw a 4.4 percent increase in visitor spending – outpacing the state average. It was the second largest percentage increase in the UC.
“It takes all of us working together to help our community grow,” the chamber’s Rita Reagan-Underhill said in an emailed newsletter to members. “Tourism is economic development. It’s important because it generates revenue and jobs, produces payroll and creates local and state taxes. In other words, if it were not for taxes generated by tourism, each household in Overton County would have paid more last year. I want to thank each person, business, and organization who held any type of event, festival, or function.”
2015 economic impact of travel on Upper Cumberland counties
|County||Expenditures (millions)||Payroll (millions)||Employment (thousands)||State tax receipts (millions)||Local tax receipts (millions)|
Editor’s Note: The UCBJ will continue to update this story.