NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Behind agriculture, tourism is the second biggest economic driver in the state of Tennessee. It doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
“Well, I love live music and I heard that this is the spot to do it and enjoy it all, so we’re here,” Tess Schlueter said.
Schlueter is on her bachelorette party in Nashville this weekend. She’s one of more than 100 million visitors Tennessee gets every year. In 2022, there were over 141 million visitors.
In the same year, the state broke a record by raking in nearly $28.8 billion in direct tourism spending. That’s a 19% increase over 2021 and the 2019 record of just over $24 billion.
Davidson County led the charge, collecting about $9.97 billion, but tourism isn’t just in Music City.
Shelby County brought in about $4.02 billion, followed by Sevier (~$3.77 billion), Knox (~$1.88 billion) and Hamilton (~$1.63 billion).
Whether you are on Broadway in Nashville, in Beale Street getting some good barbecue or checking out Graceland in Memphis, going to University of Tennessee football games or stopping by Dollywood in East Tennessee, or even going all the way up to the Tri-Cities region and Roan Mountain, there seems to be something for everybody in the Volunteer State.
“We find people that come for our mountains, that come for our music, they come for our culinary, they come for our outdoor fun,” said Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Mark Ezell. “What we’ve seen this year economically, what’s so special about our small towns, we had two counties that came off the distressed list.”
One of those counties – Grundy – saw a massive rise this year thanks in part to the rising popularity of the Caverns, an underground concert venue.
Some of that money finds its way back into your pocket as a Tennessean, as the tourism department estimates each Tennessee household saved about $1,100 from visitor spending taxes in 2022.