JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Tourist spending in Johnson City and Washington County last year nearly equaled pre-pandemic levels and increased by 30% compared to 2020, according to the Johnson City Convention and Visitors Bureau (JCCVB).

The JCCBV said that is based on data provided by the State of Tennessee and Symphony Tourism Economics.

According to the data, visitor spending increased to $281.4 million in 2021, $65 million more than in 2020. Tourism activity generated more than $9 million in local sales tax revenue.

“We are blessed by the growth and awareness of our tourism assets that give people more reasons to visit Johnson City and Washington County over the past few years,” JCCVB Executive Director Brenda Whitson said in a release. “As consumers returned to travel after the pandemic, they discovered new ways to enjoy cities that were an easy drive with amazing outdoor assets where they could have real and authentic experiences”.

Last year, food and beverage sales increased by 31% to $112.6 million, accommodations increased by 38% to $47.7 million, and retail sales jumped 19% to $42.4 million.

According to the JCCVB, $26.4 million was spent on recreation.

“Beyond supporting local businesses, tourist spending here generated $23.3 million in state and local taxes,” Whitson said. “Tourism tax dollars generated here in 2021 reduced the impact local residents would have to pay without tourism’s benefit by $427 per household in Washington County.”

Nearly 3,800 jobs in the county were directly or indirectly connected to tourism and $120.7 million was generated in paychecks to those workers.