Visitor’s Bureau joins Gov. Lee and Tennessee Tourism to unveil Putnam’s record-breaking impact numbers

Cookeville-Putnam County tourism numbers at all-time high

NASHVILLE –The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau joined Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Mark Ezell at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum recently as they announced Tennessee tourism’s latest economic impact numbers. Direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached a record-high $22 billion in 2018. 

Putnam County’s contribution to that growth resulted in $140.15 million in tourism expenditures, an increase of 6.2%. This continued growth in visitation to Putnam County generated $2.82 million in local taxes, an increase of 4.6% over the previous year providing an annual tax relief to local residents. 

Travel industry jobs are another growing sector. Putnam County saw a 6% increase in payroll for hospitality jobs with $26.39 million generated with employment numbers growing by 2.6%. 

These results also elevated Putnam County up a rank among Tennessee’s 95 counties, moving the destination to 16th for visitor spending in the state.

All 95 counties saw an increase in economic impact with each having more than $1 million in direct travel expenditures. Travel and tourism is the state’s second largest industry.

“From our thriving cities to our beautiful rural landscapes and everything in between, Tennessee has solidified its place as a leader in tourism across the country,” Lee said. “Our booming tourism sector is outpacing the nation in every category. World-class food, music, and adventure are just a few things folks find when they come to Tennessee, and thankfully, folks are visiting this remarkable place more than ever.”

“We are proud to see such a return on investment for Putnam County,” said Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development, Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau. “We correlate the increased visitor spending with our diligent efforts to not only strategically market to target drive and fly markets but to work with and serve as a resource for local hospitality partners in elevating the guest experience.” 

In assessing these recent numbers in relation to the visitors’ bureau’s marketing and operations budget, the return on investment equates to 652%, meaning for every dollar spent in Putnam County on tourism marketing in 2018, a $6.52 return in taxes was generated. This is based on funding allocations of $300,000 of visitor-paid tax from a portion of the 7% county lodging tax; $50,000 in city and county sports tourism marketing allocations; and a $25,000 (50/50 match) marketing grant for digital campaigns via the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. The total $375,000 includes all marketing, advertising, sponsorships, and administrative/operations costs for visitor development in Putnam County.

The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau 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 16th 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 $2.82 million in local tax revenue, annually, providing a tax relief for local residents. To learn more about the work of the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, go to or request additional information at

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