News release from Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett today announced Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached an all-time high of $18.4 billion in 2015, up 3.7 percent over the previous year, as reported by the U.S. Travel Association. The announcement took place at the Sevier County Courthouse near the iconic Dolly Parton statue. Mountain Rukus from Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede provided music.
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.
Top five counties include Davidson ($5.686 billion), Shelby ($3.196 billion), Sevier ($2.031 billion), Hamilton ($1.016 billion), and Knox ($1.014 billion), who were acknowledged during the event for all achieving more than $1 billion in travel expenditures. All 95 counties in Tennessee had more than $1 million in direct travel expenditures; 19 counties saw more than $100 million each.
Tennessee is ranked in the Top 10 destinations in the U.S. for total travel, with more than 105 million in total visitation, a 3.9% increase over 2014, as reported by D.K. Shifflet & Associates.
“The hard work of Tennessee’s tourism industry, strategically led by the Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Tourism Committee, continues to produce record results,” Gov. Haslam said. “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.”
“It’s appropriate that today’s announcement takes place next to a statue of Sevier County’s own Dolly Parton, who graces the cover of this year’s Tennessee Vacation Guide,” said Commissioner Triplett. “Dolly’s music has played a major role in making Tennessee ‘The Soundtrack of America.’ People come to Tennessee for a variety of reasons including the music, but it’s the authenticity and Southern hospitality that our communities and partners deliver every day that keeps people coming back. The tourism industry’s continued economic impact growth is a result of visitor satisfaction.”
The Tennessee Tourism Committee, appointed in 2011 by Gov. Haslam, is made up of tourism leaders in both the public and private sectors. The Committee 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.