Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett announced Tuesday that Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached an all-time high of $20.7 billion in 2017, up 6.3% percent over 2016. Numbers for Montgomery County also reached an all-time high of $224 million, up 6.2% percent, or $13.1 million, over the prior year.
For the first time, all 95 Tennessee counties saw gains during the period, and all exceeded $1 million in visitor spending.
Tourism remains the state’s second leading industry, second to agriculture. Haslam also announced that Tennessee is the fastest-growing state in the nation for international visitors.
“Tennessee tourism has been on an incredible run and Clarksville-Montgomery County is performing at that same high level,” said Visit Clarksville Board of Directors Chairman Tom Kane. “Our hard work to grow our brand and recruit and build events, along with the partnerships we’ve built are paying off in a big way for the local economy and the citizens of Clarksville-Montgomery County. This is the highest percentage increase we’ve had in several years -- $13 million new dollars is outstanding.”
Local tourism-related payroll topped $44.0 million, up from $41.2 million in 2016, with 1,810 workers employed in Montgomery County in the travel and tourism sector. The total state sales tax generated from visitor spending locally increased to $14.18 million, while the local portion of the tax equaled $4.3 million.
“Tourism is important to the economy – nationally, statewide, and locally,” says Kane. “Knowing that all of the events and athletic tournaments we host contribute more than $4 million into local tax coffers is significant. Think about the impact locally if that $4 million disappeared. It’s important, and we appreciate, that our local governing bodies continue to invest in those things that will keep the local tourism industry growing.”
Theresa Harrington, Visit Clarksville Executive Director, credits some of the growth to new events and new hotels. “Adding new hotels always helps in two ways. One, corporations and individuals who build hotels aren’t going to invest in a market unless they expect it to grow and thrive. But, new hotels help directly with revenue because people will pay more to stay in newer facilities. This year, we hosted four new events – the high school football East vs. West All-Star Game, F2Con gaming convention, the High Rolling Crit cycling race, and an expanded veterans celebration week -- that we expect will continue to grow. Our athletic events in the summer are happening every weekend. Facilities like Heritage Park, RichEllen Park, and the Sports Complex are filled.”
In looking ahead, Harrington is excited about the new projects that are in the city and county pipeline. “We have the potential to open a new convention center/hotel complex, a multi-purpose events center, and an outdoor sports complex within a short time of each other. At this point, it’s going to take new facilities that create new capacity so we can continue to increase the impact of tourism spending.”
About Visit Clarksville
The Clarksville-Montgomery County Tourism Commission was established by the State of Tennessee in 1979 to positively influences tourism in the Clarksville-Montgomery County area by promoting tourist attractions, hosting conventions, group tours and engaging in large-scale marketing efforts. In 2015, the organization adopted the Visit Clarksville brand. Visit Clarksville is governed by nine board of director members and is funded by a portion of the local hotel-motel tax.