State and local leaders are working to increase tourism revenue, and leaders recently released a report that they said shows that investment in tourism can create long-term benefits, such as job creation and increased tax revenue.
“One of the most compelling things we learned from this research process is that we are poised to gain a significant advantage over other states in the coming years if we continue to stand together as a unified industry with a competitively funded statewide marketing initiative," Colin Reed, chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties and chairman of the Tennessee Tourism Committee, said in a prepared statement.
For the past 18 months, members of the tourism committee—including two local leaders—have collaborated to pool research and create industry and visitor profiles and to examine the opportunities for further promoting and developing the tourism industry.
Recently, in his State of the State address, Gov. Bill Haslam proposed an $8 million increase to the state's tourism marketing budget to support findings and suggestions from the committee, pending a completion of a long-term strategic plan for the state's tourism industry.
Haslam appointed Bob Doak, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Charlie Arant, president and CEO of the Tennessee Aquarium, to the Tennessee Tourism Committee.
Doak said further investment in tourism will benefit the state.
"We have a strong relationship and unity around the state to promote the incredible natural and man-made assets we boast," he said in a prepared statement. "We firmly believe that we’ll see a direct economic impact throughout the state and Hamilton County from this additional $8 million investment."
Doak and Arant were two of about 24 tourism leaders from across the state who helped create the report, which outlines potential for untapped tourism resources to increase the state's revenue.
Reed said the committee is comprised of people who have dedicated their lives to the tourism and hospitality industry and who understand the importance of growing the industries throughout the state.
Click here to download the report.
Key highlights of the report include:
—In 2011, the state's attractions drew in 54 million visitors, who spent $15.4 billion. That money directly supported 41,400 jobs and helped generate nearly $1.2 billion in state and local taxes.
— If Tennessee increases its investment in tourism marketing by $10 million, the state could gain up to 9.5 million more visitors. That could lead to an extra $1.25 billion in incremental visitor spending, $185 million in additional taxes and 65,000 additional jobs.
— More than half of the state's visitors come from adjacent states, where leaders focus extensive marketing resources. Securing more funding to invest outside the nearby markets provides a change to leverage the state's strong brand recognition and attract visitors who stay longer.