KINGSPORT, Tenn. –Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett today addressed tourism professionals during the 2018 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Hospitality & Tourism, thanking industry members for inspiring travel to Tennessee and congratulating them on another record-breaking year of growth.
During his state-of-the-industry address, Commissioner Triplett discussed the Tennessee Music Pathways tourism development project.
“Big to small, main street to back road, this statewide program identifies, explains and preserves the legacy of music and connects fans to the people, places and stories that make Tennessee the Soundtrack of America,” said Triplett. “Guests discovering the world-class music, food, history and culture, outdoor adventure and experiences that make Tennessee ‘The Soundtrack of America’ helps the tourism industry grow and fuels our economy.”
On Saturday, Sept. 15, the department kicked off Tennessee Music Pathways with the Six Degrees to Tennessee Roots Jam. The event at the New Daisy Theatre on Beale Street in Memphis, a stop on the Pathways, featured performances by GRAMMY-Award winning group The Roots with special guests Booker T. Jones, Dustin Lynch, Elle King, Estelle, The Isley Brothers, JJ Julius Son from Kaleo and Project Pat of Three 6 Mafia. Each artist performed an original hit song along with a song that highlighted their musical connection back to Tennessee. The department also launched the Six Degrees platform, in partnership with Rolling Stone, which allows music fans to enter any music artist to see their connection back to the state of Tennessee in six degrees or less, designed to drive traffic to the new Tennessee Music Pathways section of tnvacation.com.
The Pathways’ online platform already includes more than 300 points of interest, including attractions, existing historic markers, birthplaces, resting places, hometowns and locations of Tennessee’s musical pioneers and legends as well as music venues, entertainment districts and festivals where visitors can enjoy live music experiences every day. Triplett also unveiled the first custom Tennessee Music Pathways marker featuring the story of jazz artist Clarence Beeks, better known as “King Pleasure,” which will be installed near his hometown of Oakdale, Tennessee. Signs and markers will continue to be installed for years to come.
Triplett referenced economic impact numbers originally announced in August at Nashville’s Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached a new all-time record high of $20.7 billion in 2017, a 6.3 percent increase over the previous year, as reported by the U.S. Travel Association. A record 113.6 million person stays also were recorded in 2017, making Tennessee a top 10 travel state for the fourth year in a row, according to D.K. Shifflet.
For the 12th consecutive year, tourism topped $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, reaching $1.8 billion. That marks a 7.6 percent increase from 2016, higher than the national growth of travel related state tax revenues of 4.6 percent. Tourism also generated 184,300 jobs for Tennesseans, a 3.1 percent growth year over year.
“Counties, cities and rural communities work hard to make our state a premier destination, welcoming visitors from around the world,” Gov. Haslam said. “Our state’s second biggest industry continues to see outstanding growth, break visitation records, boost Tennessee’s economy and create new jobs.”
Tourism is the No. 2 industry in the state behind agriculture. All 95 Tennessee counties had more than $1 million in tourist spending. Twenty counties saw more than $100 million in the economic impact of tourism.
Tennessee is also the fastest-growing state for international travel in the U.S. International travelers spent more than $930 million in the state last year, an increase of 38.7 percent over five years from 2012 to 2017. That’s the highest percentage increase in international travel of any state in America. Canada is No. 1 in visitation to the Volunteer State, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Mexico and Japan.
Other highlights of the conference included keynote speaker journalist and CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, conference attendees hearing from gubernatorial candidates Karl Dean and Bill Lee, as well as educational seminars on topics like: Tennessee Songwriters Week, attracting tourists through culinary tourism, new technologies in the hospitality industry and Tennessee’s growing international travel market. Industry professionals got a chance to connect at the opening night event at the Kingsport Farmers Market & Carousel. The Stars of the Industry Gala Thursday night honored front-line industry employees and businesses.
I-24 Tiftonia/Hamilton County earned the Welcome Center of the Year Award. The Tiftonia Welcome Center features eco-friendly solar panels, recycling, a Geo Thermal Operating System, on-site security, a Civil War exhibit in the cabin area with rocking chairs and a fireplace, along with weather monitors in the lobby. In 2017, more than 14 million travelers utilized the state’s 15 welcome centers.
Currently, 14 of Tennessee’s 15 welcome centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with knowledgeable staff greeting travelers entering Tennessee.
The Governor’s Conference on Hospitality & Tourism is produced by the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau and hospitality and tourism partners from across Northeast Tennessee.
For more information, contact Jill Kilgore, public relations media manager for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, at 615-927-1320 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view the full 2017 Economic Impact Report, including county-by-county numbers, click here.
About the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Tennessee is the home of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll-delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history and family adventure, infused with music that creates a vacation that is “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” In 2017, Tennessee’s tourism industry generated $20.7 billion in economic impact, more than $1.8 billion in state and local tax revenue and more than 184,300 tourism-related jobs.
Explore more at tnvacation.com and join other Tennessee travelers by following “tnvacation” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube or “Tennessee” on Snapchat.