Posted on: Friday - Aug 21, 2015

Where else can you visit one of the nation’s top amusement parks, the home of a king and the world’s fastest half mile? Only in Tennessee.

With some of the best outdoor and natural areas, historical sites, and music, sports and arts venues, it’s no wonder millions of people from around the world choose Tennessee for their vacations. In fact, we set a record last year. The Volunteer State is now ranked as one of the top 10 destinations in the country for total travel according to statistics released this week. 

Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached $17.7 billion in 2014, up 6.3 percent from the year before and an all-time high for the state. Tourism-generated jobs topped 152,900, a 2.8 percent increase.

The tourism wealth was shared statewide. All 95 counties in Tennessee had more than $1 million in direct travel expenditures. Nineteen counties saw more than $100 million, and three counties, Davidson, Shelby and Sevier, had more than $1 billion in economic impact each. Knox and Hamilton Counties rounded out the top five in economic impact with travel expenditures just shy of $1 billion.

State and local sales tax revenues saw a 7 percent increase, surpassing $1.5 billion – the ninth consecutive year tourism topped $1 billion according to the U.S. Travel Association.  

“We want Tennessee to be a place people from all over the world want to visit,” remarked Gov. Bill Haslam. “The data shows that’s happening, and more jobs and $1.5 billion in sales tax revenue is good news for every Tennessean.”

Tennessee’s thriving tourism industry shows no signs of slowing down in 2015 either.  Numerous grand openings, expansions and milestone anniversaries have been or are being celebrating across the state. 

Dollywood’s new 300 room DreamMore Resort just opened less than a month ago in Pigeon Forge, and the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park once again tops the list of most visited national parks in the U.S. In Nashville, The Ryman Auditorium completed a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion, while The Grand Ole Opry is celebrating its 90th birthday in October. Memphis’ new Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, one of the largest and most dynamic retail experiences in the world, welcomed one million people in just a little over two months.

“Tourists are drawn to Tennessee for our world-renown music, outstanding attractions, stunning scenic beauty,” said Commissioner Kevin Triplett of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “But, at the end of the day, people keep coming to Tennessee for our authenticity and exceptional, Southern hospitality. That is the ‘made in Tennessee’ brand delivered to our visitors every day by our communities and partners.”