NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee’s Department of Tourism released its annual report on the economic impacts of travel and tourism on the Volunteer State, and the results are impressive.

The economic impact data comes from the U.S. Travel Association. In 2021, tourism generated a record $24 billion in travel spending in our state, a big rebound from 2020.

Every county in Tennessee saw an increase in visitor spending year-over-year.

Commissioner Mark Ezell said this is a wonderful thing for all Tennesseans.

“The great thing about tourism spending from a visitor is it saves all of us property taxes. It also keeps us from having to have an income tax. And that’s the wonderful news about tourism,” Ezell said. “And Tennessee’s performed extremely well. In fact, this year, we were up 44% from last year, which beat the national average for the second year in a row by more than 20%.”

The tax revenue generated by tourism and travel in the state helped save each Tennessee household about $750 dollars in state and local taxes last year. 

“What’s great about tourism is that we capture more money from a visitor than any state in America, as far as a percentage. And with Tennessee’s great tourism assets. That means money from tourism for Tennessee residents. Last year, leisure and hospitality delivered over $1.5 billion that got to be used for those 7 million Tennesseans,” said Ezell.

According to Ezell, one of the reasons for Tennessee’s popularity is its diversity.

“We beat the national average by 24%. And it’s the second year in a row, we weren’t down as much in 2020. And now our rebound is even greater. It just speaks to the great diversity of Tennessee tourism assets, whether you go to the Smokies and enjoy the great outdoors or to Memphis for the river and Elvis’s new movie. And then obviously here in Middle Tennessee with Music City, USA. And the great things to do here.”

Domestic tourism brought in the majority of those dollars in 2021.

Ezell said 2022 may be even more impressive as international travelers return.

“What was exciting for us this year is that we had a record amount of domestic visitor spending that helped us have a total visitor spending of 99% of 2019’s record year. Why did we come short of that total number because our international visitors could not come back in 2021. But what’s exciting is now they can. And we see those gates are open, and people are coming back in record amounts.”

In Clarksville-Montgomery County visitor spending has increased back to almost 100% of its 2019 record-breaking total of $352 million. According to the data, visitor spending last year topped $340 million.

In Williamson County, the area saw a 34% increase from 2020, which was on par with its 2018 levels of spending. According to the data, visitor spending in the county generated $1.04 billion in direct economic impact during 2021.

To see the full report and county-by-county breakdown click on this link.